Battle of Mohács
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|Battle of Mohács|
|Part of the Ottoman wars in Europe and Ottoman–Hungarian wars|
Battle of Mohacs by Bertalan Szekely
|Kingdom of Poland|
|Commanders and leaders|
Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha
Malkoçoğlu Bali Bey
Gazi Hüsrev Bey
Devlet I Giray
Louis II of Hungary †|
Pál Tomori †
György Zápolya †
Stephen VII Báthory
80 guns (only 50 arrived on time)
|Casualties and losses|
2,000 prisoners executed
The Battle of Mohács (Hungarian: [ˈmohaːt͡ʃ]; Hungarian: Mohácsi csata, Turkish: Mohaç Muharebesi) was one of the most consequential battles in Central European history. It was fought on 29 August 1526 near Mohács, Kingdom of Hungary, between the forces of the Kingdom of Hungary and its allies, led by Louis II, and those of the Ottoman Empire, led by Suleiman the Magnificent. The Ottoman victory led to the partition of Hungary for several centuries between the Ottoman Empire, the Habsburg Monarchy, and the Principality of Transylvania. Further, the death of Louis II as he fled the battle marked the end of the Jagiellonian dynasty in Hungary and Bohemia, whose dynastic claims passed to the House of Habsburg. The Battle of Mohács marked the end of the Middle Ages in Hungary.
Decline of Hungarian royal power (1490–1526)
After the death of the absolutist King Matthias Corvinus in 1490, the Hungarian magnates, who did not want another heavy-handed king, procured the accession of the notoriously weak-willed King Vladislaus of Bohemia, who reigned as King Vladislaus II of Hungary from 1490 to 1516. He was known as King Dobře (or Dobzse in Hungarian orthography), meaning "all right", for his habit of accepting, without question, every petition and document laid before him. The freshly-elected King Vladislaus II donated most of the Hungarian royal estates, régales, and royalties to the nobility. Thus the king tried to stabilize his new reign and preserve his popularity among the magnates.
Given the naive fiscal and land policy of the royal court, the central power began to experience severe financial difficulties, largely due to the enlargement of feudal lands at royal expense. The noble estate of the parliament succeeded in reducing their tax burden by 70–80%, at the expense of the country's ability to defend itself. Vladislaus became the magnates' helpless "prisoner"; he could make no decision without their consent.
The standing mercenary army (the Black Army) of Matthias Corvinus was dissolved by the aristocracy. The magnates also dismantled the national administration systems and bureaucracy throughout the country. The country's defenses sagged as border-guards and castle garrisons went unpaid, fortresses fell into disrepair, and initiatives to increase taxes to reinforce defenses were stifled. Hungary's international role declined, its political stability shaken; social progress was deadlocked. The arrival of Protestantism further worsened internal relations in the country.
The strongest nobles were so busy oppressing the peasants and quarreling with the gentry class in the parliament that they failed to heed the agonized calls of King Louis II (who reigned in Bohemia and Hungary from 1516 to 1526) for support against the Turks.
In 1514, the weakened and old King Vladislaus II faced a major peasant rebellion led by György Dózsa, which was ruthlessly crushed by the nobles, led by John Zápolya. After the Dózsa Rebellion, the brutal suppression of the peasants greatly aided the 1526 Turkish invasion as the Hungarians were no longer a politically united people. The resulting degradation of order paved the way for Ottoman pre-eminence.
King Louis II of Hungary married Mary of Habsburg in 1522. The Ottomans saw this Jagiellonian-Habsburg marital alliance as a threat to their power in the Balkans and worked to break it. After Suleiman I came to power in Istanbul in 1520, the High Porte made the Hungarians at least one and possibly two offers of peace. For unclear reasons, Louis refused. It is possible that Louis was well aware of Hungary's situation (especially after the Ottomans defeated Persia in the Battle of Chaldiran (1514) and the Polish-Ottoman peace from 1525) and believed that war was a better option than peace. Even in peacetime, the Ottomans raided Hungarian lands and conquered small territories (with border castles), but a final battle still offered Louis a glimmer of hope. Accordingly, another Ottoman–Hungarian war ensued, and in June 1526 an Ottoman expedition advanced up the Danube.
European events, and the Franco-Ottoman alliance
King Francis I of France was defeated at the Battle of Pavia on 24 February 1525 by the troops of the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. After several months in prison, Francis I was forced to sign the Treaty of Madrid.
In a watershed moment in European diplomacy, Francis formed a formal Franco-Ottoman alliance with Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent as an ally against Charles V. The French-Ottoman strategic, and sometimes tactical, alliance lasted for about three centuries.
To relieve the Habsburg pressure on France, in 1525 Francis asked Suleiman to make war on the Holy Roman Empire, and the road from Turkey to the Holy Roman Empire led across Hungary. The request of the French king coincided well with the ambitions of Suleiman in Europe and gave him an incentive to attack Hungary in 1526, leading to the Battle of Mohács.
The Hungarians had long opposed Ottoman expansion in southeastern Europe, but in 1521 the Turks advanced up the Danube River and took Nándorfehérvár (present-day Belgrade, Serbia) – the strongest Hungarian fortress on the Danube – and Szabács (now Šabac, Serbia). This left most of southern Hungary indefensible.
The loss of Nándorfehérvár caused great alarm in Hungary, but the huge 60,000 strong royal army – led by the king, but recruited too late and too slowly – neglected to take food along. Therefore, the army disbanded spontaneously under pressure from hunger and disease without even trying to recapture Belgrade from the newly installed Turkish garrisons. In 1523, Archbishop Pál Tomori, a valiant priest-soldier, was made Captain of Southern Hungary. The general apathy that had characterized the country forced him to lean on his own bishopric revenues when he started to repair and reinforce the second line of Hungary's border defense system. Pétervárad fell to the Turks on July 15, 1526 due to the chronic lack of castle garrisons. For about 400 km along the Danube between Pétervárad and Buda there was no single Hungarian town, village, or fortification of any sort.
Three years later, an Ottoman army set out from Constantinople on 16 April 1526, led by Suleiman the Magnificent personally. The Hungarian nobles, who still did not realize the magnitude of the approaching danger, did not immediately heed their King's call for troops. Eventually, the Hungarians assembled in three main units: the Transylvanian army under John Zápolya, charged with guarding the passes in the Transylvanian Alps, with between 8,000 and 13,000 men; the main army, led by Louis himself (beside numerous Spanish, German, Czech, and Serbian mercenaries); and another smaller force, commanded by the Croatian count Christoph Frankopan, numbering around 5,000 men. The Ottomans deployed the largest field artillery of the era, comprising some 300 cannons, while the Hungarians had only 85 cannons, though even this number was greater than other contemporary Western European armies deployed on the battlefields during the major conflicts of Western European powers.
The geography of the area meant that the Hungarians could not know the Ottomans' ultimate goal until the latter crossed the Balkan Mountains, and when they did, the Transylvanian and Croatian forces were farther 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 war council – without waiting for reinforcements from Croatia and Transylvania only a few days march away – made a serious tactical error by choosing the battlefield near Mohács, an open but uneven plain with some swampy marshes.
The Ottomans had advanced toward Mohács almost unopposed. While Louis waited in Buda, they had besieged several towns (Petervarad, Ujlak, and Eszek), and crossed the Sava and Drava Rivers. At Mohács the Hungarians numbered some 25,000 to 30,000 soldiers. The only external help was a small contingent of Polish troops (1,500 soldiers and knights) led by the royal captain Lenart Gnoiński (but organized and equipped by the Papal State). The Ottoman army numbered perhaps 50,000, though some contemporary and modern-day historians put the number of the Ottoman troops at 100,000. Most of the Ottoman Balkan forces registered before this battle were described as Bosnians or Croats.
The Hungarian army was arrayed to take advantage of the terrain and hoped to engage the Ottoman army piecemeal. They had the advantage that their troops were well-rested, while the Turks had just completed a strenuous march in scorching summer heat.
Hungary built up an expensive but obsolete army, structured similarly to that of King Francis I at the Battle of Pavia and mostly reliant on heavily-armoured cavalrymen on barded warhorses similar to gendarmes. The Hungarian deployment for battle consisted of two lines. The first had a center of mercenary infantry and artillery and the majority of the cavalry on either flank. The second was a mix of levy infantry and cavalry. The Ottoman army was a more modern force built around artillery and the elite, musket-armed Janissaries. The remainder consisted of feudal Timarli cavalry and conscripted levies from Rumelia and the Balkans.
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 caused considerable chaos among the irregular Ottoman troops, but even as the Hungarian attack pressed forward, the Ottomans rallied with the arrival of Ottoman regulars deployed from the reserves. While the Hungarian right advanced far enough at one time to place Suleiman in danger from Hungarian bullets that struck his cuirass, the superiority of the Ottoman regulars and the timely charge of the Janissaries, overwhelmed the attackers, particularly on the Hungarian left. The Hungarians took serious casualties from the skillfully handled Turkish artillery and musket volleys. The Hungarians could not hold their positions, and those who did not flee were surrounded and killed or captured. The result was a disaster, with the Hungarians advancing into withering fire and flank attacks, and falling into the same trap that John Hunyadi had so often used successfully against the Ottomans. 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 heavy armor. Some 1,000 other Hungarian nobles and leaders were also killed. It is generally accepted that more than 14,000 Hungarian soldiers were killed in the initial battle.
Suleiman could not believe that this small, suicidal army was all that the once powerful country could muster against him, so he waited at Mohacs for a few days before moving cautiously against Buda. On 31 August, 2,000 Hungarian prisoners were massacred as the Sultan watched from a golden throne; the rain fell in torrents.
The victory did not give the Ottomans the security they wanted. Buda was left undefended; only the French and Venetian ambassadors waited for the Sultan to congratulate him on his great victory. Though they entered the unguarded evacuated Buda and pillaged the castle and surroundings, they retreated soon afterwards. It was not until 1541 that the Ottomans finally captured and occupied Buda following the 1541 Siege of Buda. However, for all intents and purposes, the Battle of Mohács meant the end of the independent Kingdom of Hungary as a unified entity. Amid political chaos, the divided Hungarian nobility elected two kings simultaneously, John Zápolya in 1526 and Ferdinand of Austria in 1527. 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 the Habsburgs, who also dominated the northern and western parts of Hungary and the remnants of the Kingdom of Croatia, while the Ottomans held central Hungary and suzerainty over semi-independent Transylvania. This provided the Hungarians with sufficient impetus to continue to resist the Ottoman occupation, which they did for another seventy years.
The Austrian branch of Habsburg monarchs needed the economic power of Hungary for the Ottoman wars. During the Ottoman wars the territory of the former Kingdom of Hungary shrunk by around 70%. Despite these territorial and demographic losses, the smaller, heavily war-torn Royal Hungary had remained economically more important than Austria or the Kingdom of Bohemia even at the end of the 16th century. Of Ferdinand's territories, the depleted Kingdom of Hungary was at that time his largest source of revenue.
The subsequent near constant warfare required a sustained commitment of Ottoman forces, proving a drain on resources that the largely rural and war-torn kingdom proved unable to repay. Crusader armies besieged Buda several times during the 16th century. Sultan Suleiman himself died of natural causes in Hungary during the Battle of Szigetvár in 1566. There were also two unsuccessful Ottoman sieges of Eger, which did not fall until 1596, seventy years after the Ottoman victory at Mohács. The Turks proved unable to conquer the northern and western parts of Hungary, which belonged to the Habsburg monarchs.
Mohács is seen by many Hungarians as the decisive downward turning point in the country's history, a national trauma that persists in the nation's folk memory. To indicate magnitude of bad luck at hand, Hungarians still say: "more was lost at Mohács" (Hungarian: Több is veszett Mohácsnál). Hungarians view Mohács as marking the end of Hungary as an independent and powerful European nation.
Whilst Mohács was a decisive loss, it was the aftermath that truly put an end to fully independent Hungary. The ensuing two hundred years of near constant warfare between the two empires, Habsburg and Ottoman, turned Hungary into a perpetual battlefield and her territories were split into three parts. The countryside was regularly ravaged by armies moving back and forth, in turn devastating the population. Only in the 19th century would Hungary reestablish constantly her former boundaries, with full independence from the Habsburg house coming only after the First World War; however, the Treaty of Trianon awarded much of its former land to Romania, Czechoslovakia, and Yugoslavia, and Hungary has never regained its former political power.
The battlefield, beside the village of Sátorhely, became an official national historical memorial site in 1976 on the 450th anniversary of the battle. The memorial was designed by architect György Vadász. A new reception hall and exhibition building, also designed by Vadász and partially funded by the European Union, was completed in 2011.
- Ágoston, Gábor (2009). "Mohács, Battle of". In Ágoston, Gábor; Bruce Masters (eds.). Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire. New York: Facts on File. pp. 388–389.
- Stavrianos, Balkans Since 1453, p. 26 "The latter group prevailed, and on 29 August 1526 the fateful battle of Mohacs was fought: 25,000 to 30,000 Hungarians and assorted allies on the one side, and on the other 45,000 Turkish regulars supported by 10,000 lightly armed irregulars."
- Nicolle, David, Hungary and the fall of Eastern Europe, 1000–1568, p. 13 "Hungary mustered some 25,000 men and 85 bore cannons (only 53 being used in actual battle), while for various reasons the troops from Transylvania and Croatia failed to arrive.
- Feridun Emecen,"Battle of Mohacs". (in Turkish)
- Cathal J. Nolan, The Age of Wars of Religion, 1000–1650: An Encyclopedia of Global Warfare and Civilization, Vol. 2, (Greenwood Press, 2006), 602.
- Turner & Corvisier & Childs, A Dictionary of Military History and the Art of War, pp. 365–366 "In 1526, at the battle of Mohács, the Hungarian army was destroyed by the Turks. King Louis II died, along with 7 bishops, 28 barons and most of his army (4,000 cavalry and 10,000 infantry)."
- Minahan, One Europe, many nations: a historical dictionary of European national groups, p. 311 "A peasant uprising, crushed in 1514, was followed by defeat by the Ottoman Turks at the battle of Mohacs in 1526. King Louis II and more than 20,000 of his men perished in battle, which marked the end of Hungarian power in Central Europe."
- Feridun Emecen,"Battle of Mohacs". "According to the rûznâme kept during the battle, the Hungarian dead who remained in the square were not left in the middle and were buried, while the bodies of 20,000 infantry and 4,000 cavalry were counted." (in Turkish)
- Spencer Tucker Battles That Changed History: An Encyclopedia of World Conflict, page: 166 (published 2010)
- "Hungary". Britannica Online Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 27 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-21.
- Francis Fukuyama: Origins of Political Order: From Pre-Human Times to the French Revolution
- "A Country Study: Hungary". Geography.about.com. Archived from the original on 2012-07-08. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
- Tamás Pálosfalvi, From Nicopolis to Mohács: A History of Ottoman-Hungarian Warfare, 1389–1526 (Brill, 2018)
- Merriman, p.132
- Jeremy Black (2013). War and Technology. Indiana University Press. p. 85. ISBN 9780253009890.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-12-01. Retrieved 2018-02-02.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Gábor Ágoston,Bruce Alan Masters: Encyclopedia of the Ottoman Empire, page: 583 (published: 2009
- Christian P. Potholm: Winning at war: seven keys to military victory throughout history, page 117 (published in 2009)
- William J. Duiker, Jackson J. Spielvogel: World History, Volume: I page: 419, (published: 2006)
- Stanley Lane-Poole: Turkey, page:179 (published 2004)
- Stephen Turnbull: The Ottoman Empire, 1326–1699, page:46
- Battle of Mohács article Encyclopædia Britannica
- Fine, John V. A. (5 February 2010). When Ethnicity Did Not Matter in the Balkans: A Study of Identity in Pre-Nationalist Croatia, Dalmatia, and Slavonia in the Medieval and Early-Modern Periods. University of Michigan Press. p. 215. ISBN 978-0-472-02560-2.
- "The Battle of Mohacs: The Fall of the Hungarian Empire", by Richard H. Berg, published in Against the Odds, Volume 3, Number 1, September 2004
- Murphey, Rhoads (1999). Ottoman Warfare, 1500-1700. Rutgers University Press. ISBN 9780813526850.
- Cornwall, C.; Horiuchi, A.; Lehman, C. "Sunrise/Sunset Calculator". National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Retrieved 2008-08-31.
using the Gregorian date of the battle, September 8, 1526. Also entered were the coordinates 45° 56′ 29″ N, 18° 38′ 50″ E and a "time zone" of 1.243 hours before Greenwich, since at the time of the battle, time zones had not been invented
- David Nicolle and Angus McBride: Hungary and the fall of Eastern Europe 1000–1568 PAGE: 14
- Bodolai, Zoltán (1978). "Chapter 9. Darkness After Noon". The Timeless Nation – The History, Literature, Music, Art and Folklore of the Hungarian Nation. Hungaria Publishing Company. Retrieved 2015-11-19.
- Robert Evans, Peter Wilson (2012). The Holy Roman Empire, 1495–1806: A European Perspective Volume 1 van Brill's Companions to European History. BRILL. p. 263. ISBN 9789004206830.
- Dr. István Kenyeres: The Financial Administrative Reforms and Revenues of Ferdinand I in Hungary, English summary at page 92 Link1:  Link2: 
- Georgius Bartholomaeus (1567). De Turcarum moribus epitome. apud Ioan. Tornaesium. pp. 26–.
- Alois Richard Nykl (1948). Gonzalo de Argote y de Molina's Discurso sobre la poesía castellana contenida en este libro (i.e. El libro de Patronio o El conde Lucanor) and Bartholomaeus Gjorgjević. J.H. Furst. p. 13.
- N. Melek Aksulu (2005). Bartholomäus Georgievićs Türkenschrift"De Turcarum ritu et caeremomiis"(1544) und ihre beiden deutschen Übersetzungen von 1545: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte des Türkenbildes in Europa. Verlag Hans-Dieter Heinz. p. 142. ISBN 978-3-88099-422-5.
- Stanislava Kuzmová, "The Memory of the Jagiellonians in the Kingdom of Hungary, and in Hungarian and Slovak National Narratives." in Remembering the Jagiellonians (Routledge, 2018) pp. 71-100.
- Peter F. Sugar et al., A History of Hungary (1990) pp 83–85.
- Steven Béla Várdy, "The Impact of Trianon upon Hungary and the Hungarian Mind: The Nature of Interwar Hungarian Irredentism." Hungarian Studies Review 10.1 (1983): 21+ online
- "Historical Memorial at Mohács". Hungarystartshere.com. Archived from the original on 2009-01-24. Retrieved 2010-08-29.
- "Visitors' center at Mohács battlefield memorial site inaugurated – Caboodle.hu". Archived from the original on 3 September 2014. Retrieved 23 February 2012.
- Anna Boreczky, "Historiography and Propaganda in the Royal Court of King Matthias: Hungarian Book Culture at the End of the Middle Ages and Beyond." Radovi Instituta za povijest umjetnosti 43 (2019): 23-35.
References and further reading
- Király, Béla K., and Gunther Erich Rothenberg. War and Society in East Central Europe: The fall of medieval kingdom of Hungary: Mohacs 1526-Buda 1541 (Brooklyn College Press, 1989).
- Minahan, James B. One Europe, many nations: a historical dictionary of European national groups, (Greenwood Press, 2000).
- Molnár, Miklós, A Concise History of Hungary (Cambridge UP, 2001).
- Nicolle, David, Hungary and the fall of Eastern Europe, 1000–1568 (Osprey, 1988).
- Palffy, Geza. The Kingdom of Hungary and the Habsburg Monarchy in the Sixteenth Century (East European Monographs, distributed by Columbia University Press, 2010) 406 pages; Covers the period after the battle of Mohacs in 1526 when the Kingdom of Hungary was partitioned in three, with one segment going to the Habsburgs.
- Pálosfalvi, Tamás. From Nicopolis to Mohács: A History of Ottoman-Hungarian Warfare, 1389–1526 (Brill, 2018)
- Rady, Martyn. "Rethinking Jagiełło Hungary (1490–1526)." Central Europe 3.1 (2005): 3-18. online
- Stavrianos, L.S. Balkans Since 1453 (C. Hurst & Co. Publishers, 2000).
- Szabó, János B. "The Ottoman Conquest in Hungary: Decisive Events (Belgrade 1521, Mohács 1526, Vienna 1529, Buda 1541) and Results." in The Battle for Central Europe (Brill, 2019) pp. 263–275.
- Turnbull, Stephen. The Ottoman Empire 1326–1699 (Osprey, 2003).
- History Foundation, Improvement of Balkan History Textbooks Project Reports (2001) ISBN 975-7306-91-6
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Battle of Mohács (1526).|
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