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The Road to Szigetvár: Ferdinand I's Defense of His Hungarian Border, 1548–1566

  • James Tracy

Sultan Suleyman the Lawgiver (r. 1520–1566) led six invasions of Hungary during his reign. Although he failed to take Vienna (1529, 1532), by the conclusion of his last campaign in 1566, he had extended Ottoman rule up the Danube as far as Esztergom and beyond. For his part, Ferdinand I sought to consolidate his claim to Hungary by sending armies against cities recently taken by the Ottomans on three occasions; none of these campaigns achieved its objective. In the years between invasions from one side or the other, there were frequent truces and from 1547 a series of peace treaties. Nonetheless, Kleinkrieg remained the order of the day along the border. Convention dictated that a certain amount of raiding was tolerable, even in the relatively peaceful seventeenth century, but sixteenth-century “raiding parties” (especially from the Ottoman side) were sometimes large enough to storm and capture important fortresses. In the sixteenth century, castles on either side sent out bands of soldiers to force all peasants within reach to pay taxes to the “rightful” ruler. In the seventeenth century, the Ottoman paşa of Buda would sometimes request the help of his Habsburg counterpart in collecting the sultan's taxes from border villages.

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1 Pálffy, Géza, The Kingdom of Hungary and the Habsburg Monarchy in the 16th Century, trans. Thomas and De Kornfeld, Helen (Boulder, Colorado, 2009), 3550. In 1521, Suleyman conquered Belgrade and briefly occupied Budapest. In 1526, he crushed the Hungarian army at Mohács; King Louis II Jagellio died in the aftermath. In 1529, he installed Janos Sazpolyai, his vassal, in Buda and besieged Vienna. In 1532, he turned back before reaching Vienna a second time. In 1541, after Ferdinand's troops failed to expel Szapolyai's widow from Buda, Suleyman erected the paşaluk of Buda. In 1566, his main target was the fortress of Szigetvár.

2 He was Archduke of Austria from 1519, King of Bohemia from 1526, King of Hungary from 1527, King of the Romans from 1532, and Holy Roman Emperor from 1558. For his claim to Hungary, see below, note 10.

3 Louis II Jagellio had also been king in Bohemia, where Ferdinand persuaded the estates of Bohemia's five constituent territories to accept him as their sovereign: Winkelbauer, Thomas, Österreichische Geschichte 1522–1699. Ständefreiheit und Fürstenmacht. Länder und Untertanen des Hauses Habsburg im Konfessionellen Zeitalter, 2 vols. (Vienna, 2003), hereafter abbreviated as Österreichische Geschichte 1522–1689, I, 79–82.

4 The three failures were at Osijek (1537), Buda (1541), and Pest (1542): Oborni, Térez, “Die Herrschaft Ferdinands in Ungarn,” in Kaiser Ferdinand I. Aspekte eines Herrscherlebens, ed. Fuchs, Marina and Kohler, Alfred, 147–61 (Münster, 2003).

5 Stein, Mark L., Guarding the Frontier: Ottoman Border Forts and Garrisons in Europe (London/New York, 2007), 2122.

6 Koehbach, Markus, Die Eroberung von Fülek durch die Osmanen 1554. Eine historisch-quellenkritische Studie zur osmanischen Expansion im öestlichen Europa (Vienna, 1994).

7 E.g., Ferdinand's instructions to Veit Ugrinović, [early 1546], in Džaja, Srečko, Weiss, Günther, Bernrath, Mathias, Nehring, Karl, eds., Austro-Turcica 1541–1552. Diplomatische Akten des habsburgischen Gesandtschaftsverkehrs mit der Hohen Pforte im Zeitalter Süleymans des Prächtigen (Munich, 1995), hereafter abbreviated as Austro-Turcica, Document 33, 99: while at the Ottoman court, he is to ask about coloni in Croatia and how the taxes were exacted from them; and Ferdinand's instructions to Busbecq, 13 November 1554, Haus- Hof- und Staatsarchiv, Vienna, section Turcica, hereafter abbreviated as HHSA-Turcica, I 11 Konvolut 3, f. 143–63, here f. 146v–47, soldiers going out to villages to collect taxes are being captured by the Turks.

8 Stein, Guarding the Frontier, 2, 25–26.

9 For the treaty, see below, note 16.

10 Sultan Suleyman claimed Hungary on the strength of his great victory in 1526 at Mohács, south of Buda, where Louis II, the last Jagellio king, lay among the dead. Some magnates and nobles then elected János Szapolyai, the vojvod of Transylvania, while others elected Archduke Ferdinand, who also based his claim on a Habsburg-Jagellio marriage treaty of 1515. Ferdinand's troops drove Szapolyai from the field but into the arms of Sultan Suleyman, who willingly sponsored an anti-Habsburg tributary in Hungary. When Szapolyai died in 1540, his widow Isabella Sforza Jagellio claimed the crown for his posthumous son, János Sigismund, and defended Buda against Habsburg forces in 1541. It was at this point that Sultan Suleyman and his troops installed an Ottoman paşa in Buda, relegating Isabella and her son to Transylvania and the eight adjacent counties known as the Partium. See Pálffy, The Kingdom of Hungary.

11 Pop, Ioan Aurel, Nägler, Thomas, Bărulescu, Milra, et al., History of Transylvania (Cluj-Napoca, 2005).

12 Fekete, Lajos, Buda and Pest under Ottoman Rule (Budapest, 1976).

13 I follow the usage of Pálffy, who eschews the term “Royal Hungary.”

14 Kirschbaum, Stanislav J., A History of Slovakia, 2nd ed. (London, 2005). Posonia was also called Poszony in Hungarian and Pressburg in German.

15 Tracy, James, “Charles V Reneges: A Campaign in Hungary That Never Was,” in A Festschrift for Carla Rahn Philips and William D. Philips, ed. Mott, Lawrence (forthcoming).

16 The diplomat was Geraard Veltwijck. Ernst Dieter Petritsch, “Die Ungarnpolitik Kaiser Ferdinands I bis zur Zeit seiner Tributpflichtigkeit an de hohe Pforte,” (PhD diss., University of Vienna, 1979), 204–13. I am grateful to Dr. Petritsch of the Haus- Hof- und Staatsarchiv for making a copy of his dissertation available to me.

17 Croatia had been part of the Crown of Hungary since 1102.

18 Count Nikola IV Zrinski, as I will call him, or Miklós Zrinyi (1508–1566). See the epic poem on the siege of Szigetvár by his eponymous great-grandson: Zrinyi, Miklós, The Siege of Sziget, trans. László Kőrössy, with an Introduction by Gömöry, George (Washington, DC, 2011). For an Ottoman view of the campaign, Vatin, Nicolas, Feridūn Bey. Les plaisants secrets de la campagne de Szigetvár (Édition, traduction et commentaire des folios 1 à 147 du Nüzhetü-l-esrări-lahbăr der sefer-i-Sigetvăr (Berlin, 2010), hereafter abbreviated as Feridūn Bey. As to why the main army raised by Maximilian II (r. 1564–1576) did nothing to relieve pressure on Szigetvár, Wagner, Georg, “Maximilian II, der Wiener Hof, und die Belagerung von Sziget,” in Szigetvári Emlékkönyv. Szigetvár 1566 [Szigetvár Remembered], ed. Rúzsás, Lajos, 237–68 (Budapest, Akédemiai Kiadó, 1966), at 237–38.

19 Suleyman died during the siege.

20 Haus- Hof- und Staatsarchiv, Vienna, section Turcica, hereafter abbreviated as HHSA-Turcica.

21 Bayerle, Gustav, “One Hundred Fifty Years of Frontier Life in Hungary,” in From Hunyadi to Rákóczi: War and Society in Late Medieval and Early Modern Hungary, ed. Bák, János M. and Király, Bela, 227–43 (Brooklyn, 1982).

22 The most recent study is Simoniti, Vasko, Vojaška organizacija na Slovenskem v 16. Stoljetu (Ljubljana, 1991).

23 Dimitrov, Strahsmir, “Introduction,” in Ottoman Garrisons on the Middle Danube, ed. Velikov, Asparuch and Radushen, Evgeny, 928 (Budapest, 1996). For later evidence of the concentration of elite units in the sector facing Vienna, see the Verzaichnuss der Turggischen Reuter,” in “Grenitzen Hauptberatschlagung” (Vienna, September 1577), ff. 601–21. I have used the copy at the Arhiv Republike Slovenije, Ljubljana, “Deželni Stanovi,” Stan. 1, Zaporeda St. 171, 1st folder.

24 Pálffy, The Kingdom of Hungary, 46–47. The treaty provided for the transfer of Transylvania to the Habsburgs even if Szapolyai should have a son. In fact, János Sigismund Szapolyai (1540–1571) was born after his father's death, and Isabella Jagellio chose to defend her son's claim to Hungary.

25 Allouche, Adel, The Origins and Development of the Ottoma-Safavid Conflict (906–962, 1500–1555) (Berlin, 1983). Suleyman led campaigns against Iran in 1534, 1548–1549, and 1553–1555.

26 Petritsch, “Die Ungarnpolitik Ferdinands I,” 213–18. Malvezzi's correspondence (1548–1552) has been published in Austro-Turcica.

27 Alloluche, The Origins and Development of the Ottoman-Safavid Conflict.

28 “Successus expeditionis Principis Turcarum contra Regem Persarum ad Romanorum et Reginam Majestatem e diversis fidei dignis locis scriptis ex relationibis in mensibus Octrobre et Novembre allatis,” HHSA-Turcica, I, 11, Konvolut 2, ff. 167–79.

29 Of the “dire letter” of 3 March 1554, now en route to Vienna from the sultan's camp in Aleppo, Ferdinand had advance warning in a dispatch, dated 21 April 1554, from his ambassadors at the Porte, Antun Vrančić and Ferenc Zay: HHSA-Turcica, I, 11, Konvolut 3, ff. 96–97. For the sultan's letter, Schändlinger, Anton C. and Römer, Claudia, eds., Die Schreiben Süleymāns des Prächtigen an Karl V, Ferdinand I und Maximilian II. Transkriptionen und Übersetzungen (Vienna, 1983), Urkunde 19, 46–50.

30 von Martels, Zweder Rudolf Willem Maria, Augerius Gislenius Busecquius. Leven en Werk van de Keizerlijk Gezant aan het Hof van Suleyman de Grote[Augerius Gislenius Busbecquius. Life and Work of the Imperial Ambassador to the Court of Suleyman the Great] (Groningen, 1989), 121–24.

31 Instructions for Busbecq, 23 November 1554, HHSA-Turcica I 11 Konvolut 3, 125–40. See also the very similar instructions previously prepared for Malvezzi (May 1554): HHSA-Turcica, I 10 Konvolut 3, f. 173–86, especially ff. 177v–79.

32 Instructions for the three ambassadors then serving Ferdinand at the Porte, Vrančić, Zay, and Busbecq, 27 March 1556, HHSA-Turcica, I 12 Konvolut 4, 50–53

33 For the eight-year treaty of 1562, Zweder von Martels, Augerius Busbecquius, 266–99. 'Ali Paşa Semiz (“the Fat”), Grand Vezier 1561–1565, had previously served as paşa of Buda (Encyclopedia of Islam, I, 398).

34 For fixed boundaries between Ottoman Bosnia and Venetian Dalmatia, Pedani, Maria Pia, Dalla frontiere al confine (Venice, 2002), 4044. According to Stein, Guarding the Frontier, 14, there was no demarcated border in Hungary until the late seventeenth century, after what had been Ottoman territory was reclaimed by the Habsburgs.

35 Cf. Ferdinand's instructions for Vrančić and Zay, 13 June 1553 (HHSA-Turcica, I 10 Konvolut 1, ff. 49–65, here f. 58v), on the rights of his subjects who “alicubi in ditione Turcarum Principis census habuerunt.”

36 Dimitrov, Strashmir, “Introduction,” in Ottoman Garrisons on the Middle Danube, ed. Velikov, Asparuch and Radushev, Evgeny, 928 (Budapest, 1996); Stein, Guarding the Frontier, 21–22.

37 David, Geza and Fodor, Pál, eds., Ransom Slavery along the Ottoman Border, early Fifteenth–Eighteenth Centuries (Leiden, 2007).

38 For Ottoman complaints, Prochazka-Eisel, Gisela and Römer, Claudia, eds., Osmanische Bemantenschreiben und Privatbriefe der Zeit Süleymans des Prächtigen aus dem Haus- Hof- und Staatsarchiv zu Wien (Vienna, 2007), hereafter abbreviated as Osmanische Beamtenschreiben. On captured women, 'Ali Paşa to Ferdinand, Buda, 2 July 1556, Document 46, 101–2.

39 E.g., a raid into the duchy of Carniola by 6,000 cavalry, authorized by the sandçakbeg of Bosnia, in which, it is said “seventeen villages were devastated and put to flames” and “hundreds of souls were carried off into captivity:” Ferdinand's instructions for N. Sick, 21 May 1545, Austro-Turcica, Letter 21, 65–67; L. Vels to Ferdinand, end of May 1545, Austro-Turcica, Letter 22, 69–70; and Ferdinand's instructions for Veltwijck, 13 July 1546, Austro-Turcica, Letter 34, 102–03. For severe caution about how many people were taken as slaves, see Simoniti, Vojaška Organizacija na Slovenskem, 13: “Concerning the number of Christians captured or killed by the Turks, this is not the day for a satisfactorily professional discussion” (my translation).

40 E.g., in October 1543, the Hungarian Diet asked Ferdinand to take the critical fortress of Eger (controlled by the bishop of Eger) “into your hands” for greater safety: Frankoi, Vilmos, Magyar Országgyülési Emlékek / Monumenta Comitalia Regni Hungariae, vols. 1–3 (Budapest, 1874–1876), II, 534–39 (hereafter abbreviated as Magyar Országgyülési Emlékek).

41 Its previous lord was Balint Terek.

42 Pálffy, The Kingdom of Hungary, 113–24.

43 E.g., Ferdinand's letter patent of 18 December 1542: Lukas Zäckel is to have the fortresses of Susedgrad (west of Zagreb) and Stubica (northeast of Zagreb), with their associated revenues, for payment of 2,750 Rhine gulden to the royal treasury, and 11,250 gulden owed by Ferdinand to the recently deceased lord of these fortresses, Laszowski, Hieronim Łaski: E., Monumenta Habsburgica Regni Croatiae Dalmatiae Slavoniae = Monumenta Spectantia ad Historiam Slavorum Meridionalium, vols. 35, 38, and 40 (Zagreb, 1914, 1916, 1917), I, Letter 126, 120–22 (hereafter abbreviated as Monumenta Habsburgica Regni Croatiae).

44 N. Sick to Ferdinand, Edirne, 10 November 1545, Austro-Turcica, Letter 27, 76–81, here 79–80.

45 Bracewell, Wendy Catherine, The Uskoks of Senj: Piracy, Banditry and Holy War in the Sixteenth Century Adriatic (Ithaca, NY, 1992). Uskok attacks on Ottoman (and Venetian) shipping are better known, but they also conducted raids into Ottoman-held Croatia year after year: Wakounig, Maria, “Ferdinand I und die Uskoken,” in Ferdinand I. Aspekte eines Herrscherlebens, ed. Fuchs, Martina and Kohler, Alfred, 191201 (Münster, 2003).

46 Winkelbauer, Österreichische Geschichte 1522–1599, I, 133–34.

47 E.g., Council of Hungary to Ferdinand, [January 1555], HHSA-Turcica I 11 Konvolut 5, ff. 1–8, here ff. 2v–3; and [summer 1555], HHSA-Turcica I 12 Konvolut 1, ff. 93–110, here ff. 93v–94.

48 Council of Hungary to Ferdinand, [January 1555], HHSA-Turcica I 11 Konvolut 5, ff. 1–8, here f. 4.

49 The European practice was to hire (or impress) pionniers or fossatores for manual labor. At the siege of Maastricht (1579), Alexander of Parma set an example for his men by taking a spade in hand to begin the work of entrenchment: Van der Essen, Léon, Alexandre Farnèse, prince de Parme, gouverneur-généra des Pays-Bas (1545–1592), 5 vols. (Brussels, 1933–1937), II, 153–54.

50 Stein, Guarding the Frontier, 38; cf. Feridūn Bey, “Introduction,” 45–47.

51 Murphey, Rhoads, Ottoman Warfare, 1500–1800 (New Brunswick, New Jersey, 1999), 105–17; Stein, Guarding the Frontier, 31–39.

52 E.g., Ferdinand's instructions for Sigismund Poszgay, 13 March 1549, Austro-Turcica, Document 123, 351–52: a complaint that soldiers under the command of the paşa of Buda approach Habsburg strongholds to provoke the garrisons and lure men out to be captured in ambush.

53 For Szolnok, Austro-Turcica, Documents 168, 177, 184, 190, 192, 204, and 233. For Fülek, Koebach, Die Eröberung von Fülek durch die Osmanen.

54 Pálffy, Géza, A csaszarvaros vedelmeben. A győri főkapitánság tőrtenete 1526–1598 [Imperial fortifications: History of the High Captaincy of Györ] (Györ, 1999), 120–27. I do not read Hungarian but have notes on this important work by my research assistant, Dr. Sa'ra Kaiser.

55 See the map provided by Szakaly, Ferenc, “The Hungarian-Croatian Border Defense System and Its Collapse,” in From Hunyadi to Rákóczi: War and Society in Medieval and Early Modern Hungary, ed. Bak, Janos M. and Kiraly, Bela, 141–58 (Brooklyn, New York, 1982).

56 Winkelbauer, Österreichische Geschichte 1522–1699, I, 136.

57 Goetz, Helmut, “Die Geheimen Ratgeber Ferdinands I (1503–1564),” Quellen und Forschungen aus Italienischen Archiven 42, no. 3 (1963): 453–94. The instructions as found in HHSA-Turcica are often revised drafts, indicating discussion within the Hofrat, or the receipt of new information.

58 Pálffy, The Kingdom of Hungary, 53–57.

59 An incident that relates to the reign of Ferdinand's eldest son and successor, Maximilian II (1564–1576): Karel Rijm and David Ungnad to Maximilian II, Istanbul, 8 January 1574, HHSA Turcica, I 30 Konvolut 1, ff. 3–6, here f. 3.

60 Ferdinand's instructions for Malvezzi, 24 January 1548, Austro-Turcica, Document 62, 202–3, my translation from Latin: Since Rüstem Pasha is a man with experience of war, he will understand how difficult it is to bring under control “so many thieves and robbers, who because of long years of war have become accustomed to live from booty and rapine, and who hide in the forests and suddenly come forth to exercise their thieving trade.” Cf. Toygun Paşa to Ferdinand, Buda, 21 June 1554, Osmanische Beamtenschriften, Document 39, 89, my translation from the German: the paşa acknowledges that there have been incursions into Habsburg territory from his side, “let us call it the work of robbers and trouble-makers.” As for violations from the Habsburg side, “it is clear that this does not have the approval of your exalted person, and there is no point in making a report to you every time some damage is done to us.”

61 Faroqhi, Suraiya, The Ottoman Empire and the World around It (London, 2007), 122.

62 Busbecq to Ferdinand, 26 November 1556, HHSA-Turcica I 12 Konvolt 2, f. 174: “Pertinere ad gloriam et honorem principis sui inducias conservari inviolatas.”

63 Instructions for Vrančić and Zay, 13 June 1553, HHSA-Turcica, I 10 Konvolut 1, ff. 49–65, esp. ff. 53v–54 (the everlasting glory the sultan would gain by displaying such magnanimity), and f. 50v (a promise of a 40,000-ducat reward for the Grand Vezier, Rüstem Paşa).

64 For the history of the idea of “Asian Despotism” in European thought, see the still-valuable article on “Despotism” in Dictionary of the History of Ideas. For conceptions of the sultan's absolute power current among Habsburg officials, see Instructions to Marsupinus, 1543, in Austro-Turcica, Letter 5, 33; and Malvezzi to Ferdinand, 28 May 1550, Austro-Turcica, Letter 173, 454.

65 Council of Hungary to Ferdinand, HHSA-Turcica I 12 Konvolut 1, ff. 93–110, here ff. 95v–96, on the defeat of the shah, “qui fuerat iam unicus qui hostem hunc [the Turk] a cervicibus Christianitatis avertat.”

66 Ferdinand to Archduke Maximilian, Augsburg, 29 March 1559, HHSA Turicica I 14 Konvolut b1, ff. 137–40. But cf. Veltwijck to Ferdinand, 7 December 1547, Document 58, 195 (my translation from the Latin): the customary language about hanging haiduks caught as bandits should be stricken from proposals Ferdinand is sending to the Porte, because “in this way we may lose many brave men who can later be useful for war.”

67 L. von Fels to Ferdinand, end of May 1545, Austro-Turcica, Document 22, 69–70: six “criminous haiduks” have been hung. Ferdinand to Malvezzi, 26 August 1549, Austro-Turcica, Document 128: Ferdinand is proceeding against Melchior Balassa and other rebels who did not scruple to violate the truce.

68 Osmanische Beamtenschreiben, Document 14 [1550], 60–61: The merchant, Nasruh ben 'Abdallah, claimed losses of 207, 276 silver akçe, or about 3,586 Venetian ducats.

69 Pedani, Dalla frontiere al confine, 40–44. I have not found reference to the Veneto-Dalmatian border in Habsburg correspondence, but envoys sent to the Porte always knew (if not Venetian) Italian, the lingua franca among Europeans sojourning in the Ottoman capital.

70 Instructions for N. Sick, 21 May 1545, Austro-Turcica, Document 21, 59–69, here 63–64: “let boundary markers [termini] be placed everywhere along the borders.” Veltwyck and Sick to Ferdinand, [August] 1546, Austro-Turcica, Document 35, 108–12, here 110: Rüstem Paşa says that Ferdinand has already requested creation of a border commission “thirteen times.”

71 For 1548, Ferdinand to Malvezzi, 26 October 1548, Malvezzi to Ferdinand 8 November 1548, and Ferdinand to Malvezzi, 17 March 1550, Austro-Turcica, Document 104, 300–03, Document 105, and Document 153, 408–10; for 1551, Malvezzi to Ferdinand, 5 April 1551, and Ferdinand to Malvezzi 15 August 1551, Austro-Turcica, Document 216, 567 and Document 240, 616–19, here 616–17.

72 Contrast 'Ali Paşa's last letter to Ferdinand (Osmanische Bematenschreiben, Document 23, 70, 21 March 1553, demanding the surrender of Eger) and the first letter to Ferdinand from Toygun Paşa (Document 29, 73, 15 November 1553): He asks Ferdinand to tell “your friend” if a recent incursion by Ferdinand's men was caused by something his men did—their explanation of the matter seems suspect.

73 Toygun Paşa to Ferdinand, 30 September 1554, Osmanische Beamtenschreiben, Document 44, 97–98. On the paşa's promise, instructions for Busbecq, 23 November 1554, HHSA-Turcica, I 11 Konvolut 3, ff. 143–63, here f. 158; on the sending of Litteratus, Ferdinand to Vrančić and Zay, 6 November 1554, in Verantius, A., Öesszes Munkai (Opera Omnia) = Monmumenta Hungariae Historica. Scriptores, vols. IV, V, VI, X, XIX, XXXII (Pest, 1859–1875), hereafter abbreviated as Monumenta Historica Hungarica, Scriptores, vol. IV, Document VII, 423–27.

74 Instructions for Busbecq, 23 November 1554, HHSA-Turcica, I 11 Konvolut 3, ff. 143–163, here ff. 144v–45; for the villages in question, HHSA-Turcica, I 11 Konvolut 3, ff. 166–77, “Novae Querelae contra Turcos Augerio Datae,” also dated 23 November 1554.

75 Busbecq to Ferdinand, 12 December 1554, HHSA-Turcica, I 11 Konvolut 3, ff. 201v–03.

76 Busbecq did not believe there would be an invasion of Hungary as long as the succession struggle continued. “Exemplum litterarum Augerii a Busbek,” 5 October 1558, HHSA-Turcica, I 13 Konvolut 3, ff. 181–82. Busbecq to Ferdinand, 10 January 1559, HHSA-Turcica, I 14 Konvolut 1, ff. 4–7. Cf. Busbecq's final relatio of fall 1562, HHSA-Turcica I 16 Konvolut 3, ff. 31–42, here f. 35: when Busbecq had reliable news of Bajazet's death (13 August 1562), he stopped arguing for further modifications of the draft peace treaty.

77 Busbecq to Ferdinand, 10 February 1559, HHSA-Turcica, I 14 Konvolut 1, ff. 33–36v; and Busbecq to Ferdinand, first day of the calends of December 1559 (more a treatise than a letter), HHSA-Turcica I 14 Konvolut 3, f. 79–108, here f. 79v.

78 Of the three towns, all in what was called the Partium, Tokay remains in Hungary, but Khust and Mukachevo are now in the Ukraine.

79 Council of Hungary to Ferdinand, 13 August 1559, HHSA-Turcica I 14 Konvolut 3, ff. 34–36; Ferdinand to Busbecq, 30 October 1559, HHSA-Turcica I 14 Konvolut 3, ff. 53–56; and Busbecq to Ferdinand, calends of December 1559, HHSA-Turcica I 14 Konvolut 3, ff. 79–108, here f. 103.

80 Busbecq to Ferdinand, 4 March 1562, HHSA-Turcica I 15 Konvolut 2, ff. 99–100.

81 Busbecq to Ferdinand, 29 April 1562, HHSA-Turcica, I 15 Konvolut 2 (Ferdinand has formally abandoned his claim to the tria loca, but Busbecq judges it expedient not to let his Ottoman interlocutors know this, at least not yet). HHSA-Turcica I 15 Konvolut 3, ff. 173–82v, here f. 179, “Exemplum Confirmationis Pacis,” dated on the back of the last page Prague, 1 June 1562.

82 HHSA-Turcica, I 16 Konvolut 2, Relatio of Busbecq's legation [December 1562], ff. 31–42, here f. 31v: 'Ali Paşa accused Busbecq of “hardness” because of “the inequity of villages common between the two sides, and because we would not suffer the establishment of definite boundaries.” Cf. f. 35v, the divan has instructed çavus Ibrahim, Suleyman's ambassador to Vienna, to see if Ferdinand might still be willing to change his mind on two points: putting the “common” villages on one side of the border or the other and exchanging Szigetvár for Tata, held by the Ottomans.

83 For a pessimistic but plausible assessment of the situation by Ferdinand's Treasurer of Hungary, Alexius Thurzo to Ferdinand, 5 December 1531, Nam ex fisco unius quantumvis potentis regis difficile et pene impossibile est Turcarum tiranno vel bellum inferre, aut tantummodo eius viribus resistere”; Monumenta Habsburgica Regni Croatiae, vol II, Letter 110, 9394.

84 A. von Holleneck to Johann Katzianer, Graz, 21 September 1530; Ivan Karlević to Johann Katzianer, 22 October 1530; Ivan Karlević to Ferdinand, Novigrad, 22 October 1531; and Johann Püchler to Ferdinand, Mihov, 5 June 1532, Monumenta Habsburgica Regni Croatiae, I, Letter 452, 456–57; I, Letter 470, 440; II, Letter 84, 69; and II, Letter 128, 112–13). On Nikola III's unsuitability for the office of Ban, because he pays tribute to the Turks, Tamas Szalahazy to Ferdinand, Kascha, 16 September 1531, Šišić, Ferdo, ed., Comitalia Regni Croatiae / Hrvatski Saborski Spisi (3 vols., Zagreb, 1912–1916), I, document 47, 57–64 (hereafter abbreviated as Comitalia Regni Croatiae), I, document 217, 291–92.

85 Stepanec, Nataša, Heretik njegova Veličantsva. Povijest o Jurjur IV Zrinskom i njegovu Rodu [His Majesty's Heretic: A History of George IV Zrinski and His Family] (Zagreb, 2001), 1216, 19. The Subič clan of the twelfth century, from which both the Zrinski and their rivals the Frankopan were descended, was important for its fortresses, including Bribir.

86 Stepanec, Heretik njegova Veličantsva, 15, 22–23. For related correspondence, Comitalia Regni Croatiae, I, documents 230, 308–10 and 250, 337–42, vol. II, documents 4, 5–8; 5, 9–10; and 16, 23–24; Monumenta Comitalia Regni Hungariae, I, 482–84, 631–32, 623–30; and Barabas, Samu, ed., Zrinyi Miklós Levélek és Okiratok [Letters and Records of Miklós Zrinyi], 2 vols. (Budapest, 1898–1899), I, document 1, 1–3. This work is hereafter abbreviated as Zrinyi Miklós Levélek.

87 Stepanec, Heretik njegova Veličantsva, 15; Ferdinand's envoys to the Croatian diet (Paulus von Oberstein, Nikola Jurečić, Johann Katzianer, and Hans Püchler) to Ferdinand, Cetin, 3 January 1527: in return for his support of Ferdinand's claim to the Hungarian Crown, Count Zrinski asks for a royal pension equivalent to half the income he claims he has from his mines: Comitalia Regni Croatiae, I, document 47, 57–64.

88 Prelog, Milan, Povijest Bosne u Doba Osmanlijske Vlade [History of Bosnia under Ottoman Rule], 2 vols. (Sarajevo, 1912), I, 2428; save for Bihac (conquered 1592), Jajce (conquered in 1526), and Srebrenica, the rest of Bosnia was occupied by the Ottomans in 1463, the same year the Zrinski mines were opened.

89 Mujadževic, Dino, “Osmanska osvajanja u Slavoniji 1552 u svjetlu osmanskih arhivskih Izvora [The Ottoman Attack on Slavonia in 1552 according to Ottoman Sources],” Hravatski Institut za povijest [Croatian Historical Institute] 36 (2009): 89108.

90 Grgin, Borislav, “The Ottoman Influence on Croatia in the Second Half of the Fifteenth Century,” Povijesni prilozi [Historical Constributions] 23 (2002): 87104, at 91.

91 One was Bihac, which remained in Habsburg hands until it was taken by the Ottomans in 1592.

92 Stepanec, Heretik njegova Veličantsva, 37; for relevant correspondence, Monumenta Habsburgica, III, documents 25, 23–24; 48, 50, cf. 90, 86. Cf. Hieronim Łaski to Ferdinand, Sempthe, 28 September 1541, Monumenta Habsburgica, III, document 100, 97–98: Ulama Beg (the sançakbeg of Bosnia) has threatened to ravage Łaski's lands, as Husrev Beg (his recently deceased predecessor) did to Zrinski's lands.

93 Letter patent of Ferdinand, Vienna, 24 December 1542, Comitalia Regni Croatiae, II, doc. 206, 307–308.

94 In 1543 Zrinski married Katerina Frankopan, daughter of Count Stjepan Ozalj Frankopan, who in 1544 named his son-in-law heir to his lands; ensuing disputes with other branches of the Frankopan family were not settled until 1580: Stepanec, Heretik njegova Veličantsva, 23–24.

95 Stepanec, Heretik njegova Veličantsva, 25–29.

96 Grgin, “The Ottoman Influences on Croatia,” 90: “The Croatian nobles usually managed to attack the Ottomans only during the latter's returns from robbing the Holy Roman Empire [i.e., Austrian Carniola or Styria] or the Venetian-held territories, when the conquerors were loaded with booty and prisoners of war.” Cf. Zrinski to Jakob Lamberg (commander of Carniola's troops), Varazdin, 5 October 1552, Monumenta Habsburgica Regni Croatiae, III, document 386, 437–38, reflecting on a recent Ottoman assault into Croatia as far as Sisek, south of Zagreb on the Sava: the enemy is so close, he says, that they are upon us before spies can bring their reports, and before the nobles have time to insurgere; “we will never be able to defend this realm against the foe, unless we have troops in sufficient number serving on a regular basis.”

97 Ferenc Batthyany, Ban of Croatia, to the Palatine and Locumtenens of Hungary, Rač, 6 July 1528, Comitalia Regni Croatiae, I, document 102, 157–60: he has been assigned the revenues of County Vas (just north of County Zala), but doubts that anything can now be collected there; the diet of Slavonia (northern part of Croatia) to Ferdinand, November 1537, Magyar Országgyülési Emlékek, II, 226–35, at 233: it is not possible to find in Slavonia or in Croatia proper victuals needed for a strike force; “Your Majesty must liberate the Cis-Danubian counties [of Hungary], especially Zala, Somogy, Tolna, and Baranya.”

98 Ferdinand to Hungarian Chamber of Accounts, 3 March 1549, Monumenta Habsburgica, III, document 295, 325–26; Stepanec, Heretik njegova Veličanstva, 164.

99 Ferdinand to the Hungarian Chamber of Accounts, Prague, 28 April 1549, Monumenta Habsburgica III, document 293, 292–93; Stepanec, Heretik njegova Veličanstva, 39, 51.

100 Zrinski to Nadasdy, 14 March 1555; Ferdinand to Nadasdy, 18 August 1556; and Nadasdy to Max Sardar, 26 June 1556, in Zrinyi Miklós Levélek, I, Letters CCLXXXV, 288–90; CCXLV, 376–78; and CCLXII, 399–400. The Cis-Danubian sector of the border extended from Lake Balaton to the Mur.

101 Stepanec, Heretik njegova Veličanstva, 25, 34–35, 38, 67, 167.

102 Zrinski to Ivan Wernikar, Gvozdansko, 24 July 1544, Monumenta Habsburgica, III, document 90, 86: he fears that Ulama Beg of Bosnia “will attack us first, and especially our silver mines”; Ferdinand to the Hungarian Chamber of Accounts, Augsburg, 9 September 1550, Monumenta Habsburgica, III, document 329, 376–77: he understands that Zrinski is sending to Italy a “satis justam argenti quantitatem,” even though the laws of Hungary require that silver be shipped to the closest royal mint.

103 There were Ottoman invasions of Međimurje (albeit not in Nikola IV's lifetime) in 1578 and 1586: Stepanec, Heretik njegova Veličanstva, 86–90, 102.

104 Stepanec, Heretik njegova Veličanstva, 28–29, 38. Juraj Zrinski, Nikola IV's eldest son and chief heir, was captain at Legrad before he accepted the captaincy at Kanisza, which had succeeded to the place of Szigetvár as the anchor-fortress for Cis-Danubian Hungary.

105 Cf. Szakaly, “The Hungarian-Croatian Border Defense System and Its Collapse,” 142–43, for the two lines of fortresses established by King Matthias Corvinus along Hungary's southern border. Belgrade anchored the northern line; Bihac, the southern line.

106 See the Ottoman map of Szigetvár reproduced by Winkelbauer, Österreichische Geschichte 1522–1689, I, 136.

107 Palffy, Géza, “The Origin and Development of the Border Defense System against the Ottoman Empire (up to the Early 18th Century),” in Ottomans, Hungarians and Habsburgs in Central Europe. The Military Confines in the Era of Ottoman Conquest, ed. David, Géza and Fodor, Pál, 363 (Leiden, 2000), at 30.

108 Above, note 100.

109 Zrinski to Nadasdy, 29 March 1557, Zrinyi Miklós Levélek, Letter CCXCIII, I, 443 (postscripta); to Nadasdy, 3 April 1557, ibid., Letter CCXCIX, I, 452–53; to Ferenc Batthyany, 23 April 1557, ibid., Letter CCCII, 456–58; to Nadasdy, 1 February 1558, ibid., Letter CCCXV, I, 470–71; and to Joannes Lenkowyth, 9 March 1558, ibid., Letter CCCXXI, I, 483–84.

110 Zrinyi Miklós Levélek, Letter CCCLXXI, Zrinski to Archduke Maximilian, 27 April 1561: the banker in Ptuj (Pettau) whom Ferdinand wished to take over 5,000 gulden of his debt to Zrinski has not agreed to the transaction; Letter CCCLXXV, Zrinski to Maxmilian, 22 August 1561: a petition for the captaincy of Szigetvár, now that Horvath has died; Letter CCCLXXVI, Ferdinand to Lienhard Püchler von Weittenegg, 15 September 1561: arrangements for repayment of the 10,000 thaler; and Letter CCCLXXVII, Archduke Maximilian to Püchler: Ferdinand has agreed to appoint Zrinski to the captaincy.

111 Ferdinand to the Council of Hungary, Zrinyi Miklós Levélek, Letter CCCCXIII, I, 623–24.

112 4 October 1543: Magyar Országgyülesi Emlékek, II, 525–29, at 526.

113 Cf. Ferdinand's instructions to Malvezzi and the secretary Justo Argento, 24 January 1548, Austro-Turcica, Document 67, 209: Concerning Szigetvár, which Rüstem Pasha had requested as a gift for himself, “let the secretary say, as if on his own, that that place would bring more disturbance than strength to the peace [under discussion], and that our Council is discussing and debating whether it should come to the hands of someone other than he who now holds it [Balint Terek].”

114 Vrančić to Ferdinand [July 1553], MHHSD, vol. IV, Document XXVI, 46–47: requesting that His Majesty restrain the “savagery and brazenness” of Wolfgang Derffy and his haiduks, about whom Vrančić has heard complaints not only from the Turks but also from Habsburg subjects. Cf. Zay to Ferdinand, HHSA-Turcica, I 10 Konvolut 1, ff. 114–20, at f. 114v, and Busbecq's final Relatio of his negotations at the Porte, HHSA-Turcica, I 11 Konvolut 5, f. 37–42, at f. 41.

115 Vrančić and Zay to Ferdinand, 3 December 1554, HHSA-Turcica, I 10 Konvolut 3, ff. 195–96: news of the letter from Toygun Paşa to Ebray Paşa in Istanbul. Cf. Toygun Paşa's complaint to Ferdinand about raids from Szigetvár, 20 August 1554, Osmanische Beamtenschreiben, Document 41, 91–92, and Busbecq's relatio of 13 August 1555, HHSA-Turcica, I 12 Konvolut 1, ff. 37–42, at f. 41: having left Edirne on 3 July for his westward journey, he met men coming from the paşa of Buda with instructions to ask the sultan's permission to conquer three [unnamed] citadels, for “as long as these are not in our possession, we will have no peace.”

116 Reports of these events from both sides are in agreement on the main points: Ferdinand's instructions for Busbecq, Vrančić, and Zay, 13 November 1555, HHSA-Turcica I 12 Konvolut 1, ff. 153–61, here f. 153; Busbecq to Ferdinand, Buda, 26 November 1555, HHSA-Turcica, I 12 Konvolut 1, ff. 173–76, at ff. 174v–75; and 'Ali Paşa to Ferdinand, 2 July 1556, Osmanische Beamtenschreibungen, Document 46, 101–02.

117 Busbecq to Ferdinand, Buda, 26 November 1555, HHSA-Turcica I 12 Konvolut 1, ff. 173–76, at f. 175; Toygun Paşa has sent to Busbecq's lodgings “a letter soaked in the blood of the slain envoy.” For a fuller description of the incident, Toygun Paşa to Ferdinand, 2 July 1555, Osmanische Beamtenschreiben, Document 46, 101–2. For the principle at stake, cf. Tranquillus Andronicus to Ferdinand, Istanbul, end of 1542, Austro-Turcica, Document 4, 21–30, at 24–25: “…Imperator [the sultan] vehementer excandauisse et etiam decreuisse me interfici, sed consilio bassarum inhibitus est, ne id faceret contra fidem publicam a se datam, sine ullo more, sine exemplo, ne violaret ius gentium.”

118 Vrančić and Zay to Ferdinand, 1 July 1555, HHSA-Turcica, I 12 Konvolut 1, ff. 3–6. New instructions for the three ambassadors, carried by Busbecq, are dated 14 November 1555: HHSA-Turcica I 12 Konvolut 2, f. 130–46 and (another copy) ff. 153–61.

119 For twelve sandçaks that were grouped under the paşaluk of Buda, all erected between 1541 and 1556, Birken, Andreas, Die Provinzen des Osmanischen Reiches (Wiesbaden, 1976), 2831. Three others, erected earlier and father south, were transferred to Bosnia when that sançak was raised to the rank of a paşaluk in 1580.

120 Ferdinand's instructions for the three ambassadors, 14 November 1555: HHSA-Turcica I 12 Konvolut 2, f. 131 (what Busbecq is to do in Buda); Busbecq to Ferdinand, 26 November 1555, HHSA-Turcica, I 12 Konvolut 2, ff. 173–76.

121 'Ali Paşa to Ferdinand, 2 July 1556, Osmanische Beamtenschreiben, Letter 46, 101–02. 'Ali Pasha was still in Istanbul as of 14 April 1556, when the three ambassadors had a conversation with him: Busbecq, Vrančić, and Zay to Ferdinand, 28 April 1556, HHSA-Turcica I 12 Konvolut 4, ff. 77–80.

122 This account is from Ferdinand to Vrančić, Zay, and Busbecq, 15 August 1556 and 9 October 1556, Monumenta Historiae Hungarica, Scriptores, vol. V, Document LXV, 203–12, at 204–08, and Document LXVI, 212–16, at 212–14. Horvath is mentioned as praefectus of Szigetvár in Vrančić, Zay and Busbecq to Ferdinand, 16 February 1557, ibid., vol. V, 243–48, at 245 (also HHSA-Turcica, I 13 Konvolut 1, ff. 27–30).

123 [Michael Černović] to Ferdinand, Istanbul, [January 1557], reporting a conversation with one Mehmet, one of the vojvods of 'Ali Paşa of Buda.

124 Vrančić, Zay, and Busbecq to Ferdinand, 8 July 1557 and 4 August 1557, HHSA-Turcica I 13 Konvolut 2, ff. 3–4 and ff. 19–23, at ff. 20–21. Cf. Monumenta Historiae Hungarica, Scriptores, V, Document LXXXVI, 300–44, at 336: in an undated Relatio, presented after their return, Vrančić and Zay report that Rüstem Pasha held out the possibility that Ferdinand might offer the sultan “something else” in lieu of Szigetvár. The Porte dragoman then explained that a gift of 20,000 gulden to the Grand Vezier would be acceptable. 'Ali Paşa, now Second Vezier, objected: “No, it must be destroyed. This is the will of our prince.”

125 On the significance of Belgrade as the anchor in the line of fortresses put in place by Hungary's King Mathias Corvinus (d. 1490), Szakaly, Ferenc, “The Hungarian-Croatian Border Defense System and Its Collapse,” in From Hunyadi to Rakoczi, ed. Bak, Janos and Kiraly, Bela, 141–58 (Boulder, Colorado, 1982).

126 “Opinio Consiliarorum Hungarorum,” [no date], HHSA-Turcica I 13 Konvolut 2, f. 92.

127 From the opinion of the councilors and nobles of Lower Austria, as cited in the following note (for their summary of the views of the Bohemians, f. 152v).

128 HHSA-Turcica, I 13 Konvolut 2, ff. 150–57, at f. 151v: “…nempe quod provinciae Majestatis Regiae illius arcis finitimae custodiam atque conservationem in se ac suam fidem receperint” and f. 155.

129 Ferdinand's instructions for the Bishop of Aquila, his ambassador to Philip II, [June 1558], HHSA-Turcica I 13 Konvolut 2, ff. 101–05, at f. 101v: in the opinion of the Imperial electors, “that citadel of Szigetvár is located in a part of the kingdom that has great capacity for supporting a large number of horse and foot.”

130 Ferdinand to Busbecq, 23 June 1558, HHSA-Turcica, I 13 Konvolut 2, ff. 126–28; and his instructions for Busbecq, 27 June 1558, HHSA-Turcica, I 13 Konvolut 3, ff. 135–41 (on keeping Szigetvár).

131 Osmanische Bemantenscrheiben, Document 61, 127–36, a list of Habsburg fortresses in Hungary and the crimes allegedly committed by men from their garrisons (from 1562).

132 Feridūn Bey, “Introduction,” 21: The Ottomans lodged complaints about Gyula, Eger, Komáron, and Györ, “mais tout partiulièrement Szigetvár.”

133 [Michael Czernowitz] to Ferdinand, [January 1559], HHSA-Turcica, I 14 Konvolut 1, ff. 9–11.

134 Vrančić and Zay to Ferdinand, Komáron, 16 July 1553, Monumenta Historiae Hungarica, Scriptores, IV, Letter 11, 16–18. In 1541, the naval infantry (azeb) formed the largest contingent among troops posted in Buda: Dimitrov, “Introduction,” in Ottoman Garrisons on the Middle Danube, ed. Velkov and Radushev, 17.

135 Vrančić and Zay to Ferdinand, Istanbul, 3 December 1554, HHSA-Turcia, I 11 Konvolut 4, 195–96.

136 Moačanin, Nenad, Town and Country on the Middle Danube, 1526–1690 (Leiden and Boston, 2006), 32. On his return from the Porte in 1562, Busbecq found that “the inhabitants of some places, especially around Mohács, had suffered the cruelest punishments for giving welcome to the Heydoci or soldiers of Szigetvár:” Busbecq to Ferdinand, the final relatio or summary of his mission, 2 December 1562, HHSA-Turcica I 16, Kponvolut 3, ff. 31–42, at f. 37.

137 Osmanische Beamtenschreiben, full citation above, note 38.

138 Togyun Paşa to Ferdinand, 20 August 1554, Osmanische Beamtenschreiben, no. 41, 91–92. That the craftsmen were traveling by river is not clear, but the dispatch of skilled workers is one way in which Belgrade will have provided for Buda's needs.

139 'Ali Paşa to Ferdinand, 2 July 1556, Osmanische Beamtenschreiben, no. 46, 101–02. For his 12 March 1553 farewell message to Ferdinand, at the end of his first stint in Buda, no. 24, 70. There is of course no way to check the accuracy of complaints made by either side, but one may assume that both sides highlighted problems that were matters of common knowledge.

140 Above, note 54.

141 Mehemed, sançakbeg of Esztergom, to çavus Hidayet 'Ali, then in Vienna as Suleyman's ambassador to Ferdinand, [June 1565], Osmanische Beamtenschreiben, no. 84, 165: “And as ships coming downriver neared the church of Perag Aga [site not identifiable to the editors], Magoci's cavalry from Eger destroyed they [their] ships and took away all the people and their goods. Also, the men of Palota destroyed ships above Dunaföldvar [near Szekésféhervár], and took away what was on the ships. And the men of Szigetvár destroyed six ships at the mouth of the Drava, above the Little Danube.”

142 A letter from Istanbul to Maximilian II, Osmanische Beamtenschreiben, no. 66, 137–38. The ağa of the azeb was second in command to the kapudan-i Tuna in Buda: Strashmir, “Introduction,” in Ottoman Garrisons on the Middle Danube, ed. Velkov and Radushev, 1314. Osijek had a bridge-of-boats that afforded the Ottomans passage of the Sava; it was the target of Hans Katzianer's failed attack in 1537 (above, note 4).

143 Zrinyi Miklós Levélek, Letters CCCXXIX (Zrinsky to Maximilian, 26 July 1559), CCCXL (Horvath to Maximilian, 10 August 1559), CCCXLIII (sancak of Pecs to Zrinski, 23 October 1559), CCCXLV (Zrinsky to Nadasdy, 10 November 1559), and CCCXLVII (Horvath to Ferdinand, 6 December 1559).

144 Zrinyi Miklós Levélek, Letter CCCLXXXIV, I 583–84 (Zrinsky to Nadasdy, 16 February 1562); Letter CCCXCIV, I 592–94 (Zrinsky to Nadasdy, 13 March 1562); and Letter CCCXCVII, I 597–601 (Zrinsky to Maximilian, 31 March 1562). Cf. Busbecq to Archduke Maximilian, Istanbul, 21 July 1562, HHSA-Turcica, I 16 Konvolut 1: 'Ali Paşa complains to Busbecq about Zrinski “magnum exercitium in castris versus Croatiam.”

145 Osmanische Beamtenschreiben, Document 61, folio 8r, 130. The summary is dated 1564 but refers to events of the previous few years.

146 Busbecq to Maximilian, 21 July 1562, HHSA-Turcica, I 16 Konvolut 1, f. 27–30v. At the time of the siege in 1566, Szigetvár had a garrison of 9,000 Hungarian infantry: Wagner, “Maximilian II, der Wiener Hof, und die Belagerung von Sziget,” 238.

147 Busbecq to Ferdinand, 14 April 1562, HHSA-Turcica, I 15 Konvolut 2, ff. 85–87.

148 Busbecq's Relatio, dated 2 December 1562, HHSA-Turcica I 16 Konvulut 3, ff. 31–42, at f. 36v; also his short Summarium Negotii Turcici, ibid., ff. 82–84, at f. 83.

149 Feridūn Bey, “Introduction,” 23.

150 Extract of Busbecq's letter to Ferdinand of 11 March 1558, HHSA-Turcica, I 13 Konvolut 2, ff. 106–7; Ferdinand to Busbecq, 9 April 1558, HHSA-Turcica, I 13 Konvolut 3, ff. 57–59; Ferdinand to the Paşa of Buda, 15 April 1558, HHSA-Turcica, I 13 Konvolut 3, ff. 65–66.

151 Ferdinand to Maximilian, 29 November 1558, HHSA-Turcica, I 13 Konvolut 3, 210–11.

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Austrian History Yearbook
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