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Battle of Sisek
Part of the Ottoman wars in Europe
"Long War"
Hundred Years' Croatian-Ottoman War
Sziszeki csata (1593).JPG
"DIE CHRISTEN VOR SYSEGK IN CRABATEN Anno 1593"
(The Christians Before Sisak in Croatia A.D. 1593)
(Hieronymus Oertel, Nuremberg 1665)
DateJune 22, 1593
LocationSisak, central Croatia
Result Decisive Habsburg victory
Belligerents
 Ottoman Empire

 Habsburg Monarchy -

Kingdom of Croatia,
Duchy of Carniola, a.o.
Commanders and leaders
Hasan Pasha Predojević
Sultanzade Mehmet Bey†
Džafer Bey†
Zafer Bey†
Opardi Bey†
Ruprecht von Eggenberg
Toma Erdödy
Andreas von Auersperg
Strength
12,000[1]–35,000[2] c. 5,800[2]
Casualties and losses
8,000–20,000[2]
killed or drowned
40–50



The Battle of Sisak (Croatian language: Bitka kod Siska

Slovene language
Bitka pri Sisku
German language
Schlacht bei Sissek, or Sisak; Turkish language: Kulpa Bozgunu) was fought on June 22, 1593, between Ottoman Bosnian regional forces of the Bosnian governor-general Hasan-paša Predojević, a notable commander of Bosnia Eyalet,[3] and forces of the Holy Roman Empire under the supreme command of the Styrian general Ruprecht von Eggenberg. The Croatian troops were led by the Ban of Croatia, Tamás Erdődy, and major forces from the Duchy of Carniola and the Duchy of Carinthia were led by Andreas von Auersperg (Slovene language: Andrej Turjaški

), nicknamed the "Carniolan Achilles". The battle took place at Sisek, now central Croatia, at the confluence of the rivers Sava and Kupa and resulted in a crushing defeat for the regional Ottoman forces thus triggering the Long War.

Background[edit | edit source]

Sisak fortress

Although the central authorities of both the Ottoman Empire and Austria were rather reluctant to fight each other after several campaigns on Hungarian and Moldovian land and four renewals of the 1547 truce, large scale raids were being mounted into each other’s territories: There had been numerous raids into Hungary by Akincilar, the irregular Turkish light cavalry, and on the other hand, Uskoks (Christian refugees from Croatia, Dalmatia, Serbia and Albania) were being encouraged to conduct raids into Ottoman territory on the Balkans. "These Uskok raids became so damaging that the Bosnian provincial forces replied with a savage raid across the Urina and Sava, capturing a number of major Habsburg forts and taking so much booty"[4] that the Habsburg Empire had to react. According to Stanford J. Shaw "the emperor renounced the peace treaty (October 1592) and sent a force that routed the Ottomans at Sissek/Siska."[4]

Battle[edit | edit source]

In spring 1593, without a declaration of war, the Governor-General of Bosnia Telli Hasan Pasha and his provincial army crossed the Kupa River, then the border between Ottomans and Austria as agreed upon in a treaty concluded between Habsburg and the High Porte at Adrianople (present day: Edirne) only a year earlier. Pounding the massed attackers with heavy artillery fire, the Austrian, Carniolan and Croat defenders broke the Ottoman siege and repulsed the enemy back toward the Kupa river. Caught in the middle between two Christian army flanks, the attackers panicked and started a chaotic retreat. Disintegrating under the unending cannonade, the bulk of the army with all the commanders are said to have been slaughtered or drowned in the Kupa river.

The fatal cavalry charge by Hasan Predojević, during the Battle of Sisak in 1593.

Telli Hasan Pasha, the Muslim Bosnian Vlach[5] kapetan of the Ottoman regional force, did not survive the battle; Hersek Sandjakbey Sultanzade Mehmet Bey and some other beys were also killed. The figures for Ottoman losses vary from 8,000[6] to an exaggerated 20,000, as legend has it, which contrasts sharply with one author’s statement that there were only 12,000 Ottoman regional troops involved, who faced 5,000 Croats reinforced by forces from Styria and Carniola.[7] Christian losses are said to have numbered only between 40 and 50 men.

Christian Europe, which after relieving Spain of the Arabic Muslims had identified the Ottoman Empire with the Islamic menace, was delighted at the grandiose reports of such a victory. King Philip II of Spain congratulated and Pope Clement VIII praised the Christian military leaders.[6] The traditional daily ringing of the small bell of Zagreb cathedral at 2 p.m. is in memory of the battle as it was the bishop of Zagreb who had borne the major part of the costs of the fortress of Sisak.[8]

Consequences[edit | edit source]

On July 29, 1593, the Ottoman ruler, Sultan Murad III, declared war on Emperor Rudolf II. The result was a redress of the balance of power along the Croat-Ottoman border, which, since the Battle of Krbava field a century before in 1493, had been in total disequilibrium in favour of the High Porte.

The defeat brought the expansion of the Ottoman Empire into Central Europe to a temporary halt and allowed Croatia and Inner Austria with the duchies of Styria, Carinthia and Carniola to remain free from Turkish control, while the Habsburgs managed to affirm their position in those territories. Due to supply difficulties, however, the Austrians did not really manage to put this local victory to proper use,[9] which allowed Ottomans to recover quickly and retaliate so that the ensuing war, the Second Habsburg-Ottoman War, Long War, or Thirteen Years' War, did not end until the Peace of Zsitvatorok, or Žitava in November 1606. A 50-year period of comparable peace followed, beneficial to both sides which were then able to concentrate on internal problems.

Interpretation of the Significance[edit | edit source]

As the Battle of Sisak took place on Croatian territory and the main body of the Christian defenders consisted of Croatian troops, the victory has ever since played a major role in the traditional interpretation of the history of Croatia. As fighters from neighbouring Carniola re-enforced the defenders, it is Slovenian tradition to claim a major share in the victory. There are even Slovene sources that mention one nobleman Adam Rauber, "who entered history as the winner in the Battle of Sisak" .[10] without even mentioning any Austrian or Croat commanders or troops.[11]

Both in Croatia and in Slovenia the fact that after this battle no serious incursion into Croatian or Slovene territory by Ottoman raiders took place is generally attributed to this victory, which is declared to have even spared much of Western Europe the Turkish yoke. From both the Croat and Slovene points of view the battle was the decisive turning point in Christian-Muslim relations, a splendid historic victory by which, practically, the whole of Christian Europe was relieved of great danger.

This battle meant the final victory over the 300-years-old Turkish nuisance, which had much too long hindered the progress of the then Duchy of Kranjsko (Carniola) as the bastion of the entire Western Europe. The victory over the more than three times stronger Turkish troops practically brought salvation to the whole Christian Europe,[12]

However, there are also more reasonable interpretations: We cannot accept and agree that "the two-hour long battle" against the Turks at Sisak, in which Slovenes were also involved, should be celebrated with such fervour.[13]

Recent analysis of several hitherto unknown or unused Ottoman sources has shown that there seems to have been a conflict of interest between the policy of the central Ottoman administration and the aims of Telli Hasan Pasha, the belligerent Governor-General of Ottoman Bosnia.[3] It appears that the struggle for more land and power was an important incentive for the offensive action on the side of the Bosnian sipahis, an action which at that time was not really in accordance with Constantinople/Istanbul. The Sultan, on the other hand, may have felt that such an embarrassing defeat even of a vassal acting off his own bat could not go unavenged if he himself was not to lose face.

Whichever way one looks at it, whether it is seen as a major victory of Christian defenders over Islamic aggressors, or a bloody, yet minor combat between neighbouring provinces, the Battle of Sisak was the prelude to the long Second Ottoman-Habsburg War, and both empires experienced six more of such wars until 1791: 1592–1606, 1660–1664, 1683–1699, 1716–1718, 1737–1739 and 1788–1791.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. The Land Between: A History of Slovenia, by Oto Luthar, 2008, p.215
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall, Geschichte des Osmanischen Reiches. Vol.4: Vom Regierungsantritte Murad des Dritten bis zur zweyten Entthronung Mustafa des Ersten 1574 - 1623, Budapest: C. A. Hartleben, 1829, p. 218 and footnote with reference to the greatly differing figures in Turkish sources, e.g. Mustafa Naima,Tarichi Naima (i.e. "Naima's History"), Constantinople 1734, vol.I, p. 43 f. (Annals of the Turkish Empire: from 1591 to 1659. Transl. Charles Fraser. London: Oriental Translation Fund, 1832), and Austrian sources, e.g. Franz Christoph von Khevenhüller (1588–1650), Annales Ferdinandei, Leipzig: Weidmann 1721-1726, vol. IV, p. 1093.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Moačanin, Nenad: Some Problems of Interpretation of Turkish Sources concerning the Battle of Sisak in 1593, in: Nazor, Ante et al.(ed.), Sisačka bitka 1593, Proceedings of the Meeting from 06/18/93 to 06/19/93. Zagreb-Sisak 1994 ISBN/ISSN 9-531-75024-4, pp. 125 - 130
  4. 4.0 4.1 Stanford J. Shaw, History of the Ottoman empire and Modern Turkey. Vol. 1: Empire of Gazis, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1976, p. 184. ISBN 0-521-29163-1.
  5. Dominik Mandić. Croats and Serbs: Two Old and Different Nations, p. 145:. 

    After the fall of Bihać in 1592 the Bosnian Beylerbey Hasan Pasha Predojević settled Orthodox Vlachs from Eastern Herzegovina, especially those of his own Predojević clan, in the central part of Pounje around Brekovica, Ripač, Ostrovica and Vrla Draga up to Sokolovac.

  6. 6.0 6.1 Jasim J. Blazewich: Zagreb Guide
  7. Ottoman Rule: Invasion, Conquest and Intermittent Warfare (1463 - 1878)
  8. Bruno Sušanj, Zagreb - Tourist Guide, Zagreb: Masmedia Nikola Štambak, 2006, p.22
  9. On the Trace of Domenico dell'Allio, Joanneum Research, Graz 2002
  10. Krumperk Castle
  11. 400 years anniversary of the battle at Sisak (1993)
  12. Pota Slovenije: 1993 Stamps - 400th anniversary of the Battle of Sisak 22-06-1993
  13. Joshua A. Fishman (ed.), International journal of the sociology of language vol. 1 (1974) New York: Walter de Gruyter & Co, 1974

Literature[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]

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