Austro-Turkish War (Fifteen Years’ War, “Long War”) (1591–1606)
PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: Austria vs. Ottoman Empire
PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): Hungary and the Balkans
DECLARATION: None recorded
MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: Possession of Hungary
and the Balkan territories
OUTCOME: Despite many gains and losses during the war,
the Ottomans ultimately won only two minor fortresses;
most importantly, the war signaled the end of Ottoman
expansion into Europe.
APPROXIMATE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF MEN UNDER ARMS:
Austro-Hungary, 40,000; Ottoman Empire, 100,000
CASUALTIES: Austro-Hungary, 23,000 killed; Ottoman
Empire, about 20,000 killed or wounded
TREATIES: Treaty of Zsitva-Torok, November 11, 1606
When Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II (1552–1612) unilaterally
terminated tribute payments to the Ottoman
Empire for possession of Austrian Hungary in 1591,
threats were issued and skirmishing broke out, but the
Ottomans actually lost ground in central Hungary and
Romania. War began in earnest in 1594 when Grand
Vizier Sinan Pasha (d. 1596) led 100,000 troops into
northern Hungary. The following year on October 28,
1595, Sigismund Báthory (1557–1606), prince of Transylvania,
led Austro-Hungarian forces against the invaders at
Guirgevo. Sinan was defeated.
In September 1596 the new sultan, Mohammed III
(d. 1603), renewed the invasion, again with 100,000 men.
They targeted the fortress town of Erlau. The massive
force succeeded in taking the town, whereupon a force of
40,000, including Austrians, Germans, Transylvanians,
and Hungarians, advanced to regain it. Twice the Ottomans
sent forces to intercept the advance, and twice, on
October 24 and October 26, 1596, they were repulsed.
Then the Hapsburg forces counterattacked, penetrating
the camp of the sultan and capturing some 50 artillery
pieces. However, the Ottomans replied with a devastating
surprise cavalry attack on the German-Hungarian flank.
This was sufficient to create panic in the entire force, and
the Hapsburgs lost some 23,000 men. Ottoman losses
were also heavy—probably 20,000 killed or wounded—
and the army was in such a state of exhaustion that it did
not capitalize on its victory. The result was that warfare
within the Ottoman-Hungarian borderlands continued
sporadically until 1606, when, on November 11, the
Treaty of Zsitva-Torok ended hostilities.
See also AUSTRO-TURKISHWAR (1566); AUSTRO-TURKISH
WAR (1551–1553); AUSTRO-TURKISH WAR (1663–1664);
AUSTRO-TURKISH WAR (1683–1699); AUSTRO-TURKISH
Further reading: Rhoads Murphey, Ottoman Warfare:
1500–1700 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University
Press, 1999); V. J. Parry and M. J. Kitch, Hapsburg and
Ottoman Empires (London: Sussex Publications, 1982).