La Rocca, Kingdom of Naples
|Died||1607 (aged 62–63)
Prague, Kingdom of Bohemia
|Allegiance||Holy Roman Empire|
Giorgio Basta, Count of Huszt (1544 – 1607) was an Italian general employed by the Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II to command Habsburg forces in the Long War of 1591–1606. He was later sent to administer Transylvania as an Imperial vassal and to restore Catholicism as the dominant religion in the region.
On his orders, his ally Michael the Brave, who unified Transylvania, Wallachia, and Moldova, was assassinated on 9 August 1601, a few days after the common victory at the Battle of Guruslău, for trying to turn against Rudolf II. For this, he is often depicted as disloyal and violent by Romanian and Hungarian historians. Basta was also the author of books on the art of military leadership.
He began his military career in the service of Charles V and Philip II of Spain, mainly on the French front during the War of the Three Henrys and the Catholic League. In 1590 he joined the forces of Alexander Farnese, Duke of Parma in Flanders. During the siege of Rouen he was almost killed by Sir Roger Williams, who sliced his neck in personal combat.
After the death of Farnese, on the recommendations of Philip II, he joined the army of Emperor Rudolf II, serving mainly in Hungary, commanding Habsburg forces during the "Long War" against the Ottoman Empire. Ambrogio Merodio in his Istoria Tarantina, calls him the "terror of Ottoman arms".
On his orders, his ally Michael the Brave, the former ruler of Transylvania, Wallachia and Moldavia, was assassinated at Keresztesmező camp, near Câmpia Turzii, because Basta considered him a liability. The event happened on 9 August 1601, only days after a joint victory in Battle of Guruslău.
During his brief period of control over Transylvania, Basta tried to uproot Protestantism. Following Papal imperial policy, Calvinist Hungarians and Szeklers, Orthodox Walachians and Serbs, and Lutheran Saxons were subject to any kind of abuse. Following years of warfare and his ruthless regime, famine and plague appeared in Transylvania. In 1604 Basta twice defeated forces led by Stephen Bocskay, who attempted to oppose his rule over Transylvania.
After his experiences of warfare in Eastern Europe he went to Prague, where he died.
Basta wrote several military manuals, the best known of which are his Il maestro di campo generale...(Venice 1606), and his posthumous work Il governo della cavalleria leggiera (Venice 1612). Both were translated into German and into French.
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- Metamorphosis Transylvaniae. Taylor & Francis. 2014. ISBN 9781317856641.
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- Il mastro di campo generale (Venice, 1606) available on Google Books from Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale di Roma
- Il governo della cavalleria leggiera (Venice, 1612) available on Google Books from Complutense University of Madrid (scans in reverse order)
- German translation: Governo della cavalleria, Das ist, Bericht Von Anführung der leichten Pferde (Frankfurt, 1614) available on Google Books from Austrian National Library