Hungarian Tactics and significant Battles

 

Tactics

Battles
Rozgony June 15 1312
Ambush in Wallachia Nov 9 1330
Nicopolis 1396
Sava October 1441
Alba Iulia late February, early March 1442
Hermanstadt (Sibiu or Nagyszeben) 22 March 1442
Vasaq 2-6th September1442
The Long campaign 1443-1444
The Battle Of Varna 1444
Kossovo 1448
Belgrade 1456

Tactics

Hungary's mix of Knights with essentially Asiatic horse archers created a style of tactics broadly similar to that of Poland and the Serbians. The aim of Hungarian tactics was to create situations where the charge of the knights would be decisive. The light horse were used in open battle to clear away enemy skirmishers and prevent those of the enemy interfering with the deployment and charge of the knights. Knights through out the period either deployed in multiple lines or in deep columns. This mirrors the developments in Polish tactics. Both styles of deployment allowed maximum manoeuvrability for the Knights and provided reserves to prevent encirclement by hostile light horse.
     The Hunyadi period saw a shift along the lines of the Polish armies, infantry came to play an important supporting role. Like the Polish armies the Hungarians used infantry and Tabor wagons to create a strong centre from which their cavalry could operate and anchor their internal flanks. Bonfinius describes a Hungarian battle formation called the scorpion where infantry formed its body and the warwagons and cavalry formed the pincers. This brief description sounds very much like the Polish Crescent formation (it being based on the Mongol Grand Hunt). The objective was to sweep away the enemy flanks or force them inwards and crush their centre on the hvy infantry and wagons of the centre.


Rozgony June 15 1312
     Charles Angevin defeats the last serious opposition to his rule, the 'prince' Matheus and his allies. The King's forces included local contingents from the town of Szepes and a force called 'crusaders' in the Chronica de Gestis Hungarorum. These were probably German mercenaries. Matheus' army was commanded by Demetrius and Aba, supporters of Matthius. They drew up their forces on the slopes of the valley of the river Harnad in a very favourable defensive position possibly with the Crusaders in reserve. Charles drew his army up opposite them but appears to have refused to advance. The forces of Matheus appear to have launched an impetuous charge against Charles and made significant progress,. Initially Charles' army was thrown back, the royal standard bearer and several high ranking Nobles being killed. Charles appears to have been narrowly avoided capture or death and subsequently fought under the banner of the Crusaders. The crusaders tipped the balance and when Demetrius and Aba were killed the rebels fled. The Chronica de Gestis Hungarorum records that Charles suffered significantly more casualties than their enemies.

Main Source- Chronica de Gestis Hungarorum


Ambush in Wallachia Nov 9 1330
     King Louis with an army raised mostly from Transylvania and with large numbers of Cuman light horse invaded Wallachia to force them back under Hungarian rule. After initial successes Louis army started to suffer from supply problems. A truce was reached with Voivode Bazarad and Louis' army was allowed to retreat. However in a narrow defile with one end blocked by a log and stone wall the Wallachians ambushed the Hungarian army. Losses were apparently massive and the King only escaped by exchanging surcoats with one of entourage. This battle secured Wallachia's independence from Hungary.

Main Source- Chronica de Gestis Hungarorum


Nicopolis 1396
     A combined army of Crusaders and Hungarians is defeated by the Ottomans. This battle is covered in detail in David Nicolles excellent book, Nicopolis 1396


Sava October 1441
     Hunyadi and his personal forces along with troops raised in Transylvania attempted to drive off Ottoman troops raiding around Belgrade. Unable to pin down the Ottomans Hunyadi started withdrawing to Transylvania. An Ottoman army under the Bey of Semendria blocked the Hungarian retreat. Hunyadi deployed his army with his heavy infantry in the centre, flanked by his foot archers and auxiliary infantry. Either side of the infantry centre were the Knights and heavily armoured mounted crossbowmen. In front of the cavalry were deployed the light horse. Behind the infantry centre there was a reserve of knights under Hunyadi. Precise details of the battle are not known however the main source Bonfinius states that the reserve played a decisive role in winning it. The pursuit apparently went as far as the walls of Semendria. The lack of supporting sources to Bonfinius has lead to this battle being regarded as an inflation of a minor skirmish. It does not however detract from the deployment description which is entirely consistent with other sources for later Hungarian battles.

Main Source- Ioan Thuroczi, Chronica Hungarorum 1488
Historia Pannonica sive Hungaricarum rerum decades IV et dimidia- Bonfinius


Alba Iulia late February, early March 1442
     Mezid, Bey of Vidin led an Ottoman army of some 16,000 to 20,000 men in an invasion of Transylvania and besieged the city of Sibiu (Hermanstadt). Sibiu was one of the Saxon towns of Transylvania and straddled one of the few routes large enough for armies to safely traverse the Carpathian mountains. Mezid's attack was well timed as Hunyadi's army had only recently disbanded after its victorious return from Serbia. The unexpected attack by Mezid placed Hunyadi in a difficult position. If Hunyadi waited for his well trained 'regulars' to muster it was possible that the Ottomans would take Sibiu, severely weakening Transylvania's border defences. Hunyadi instead declared a general muster of all able bodied men and ordered them to mass at the fortress of Alba Iulia.
     Mezid hearing of the muster either sent or lead a detachment of the Ottoman army to disrupt or disperse it, leaving the rest to continue the siege of Sibiu. Hunyadi, with all the troops that had already gathered advanced to met the Ottomans and discovered them drawn up some miles north of Alba Iulia. The Ottomans were deployed in the valley of the river Mures. Their right flank resting on the valley heights and their left anchored on the river and occupying the near by village of Santimbru. The Ottomans apparently concealed a significant reserve within the village itself. Hunyadi took the offensive and launched a strong attack with his right flank against the Ottoman left. This was presumably because it appeared to be the weakest and/or most easily accessible. The Ottoman reserves however appeared to have successfully contained the attack while the Ottoman centre launched a counter attack against Hunyadi's centre. Hunyadi's centre is described as staggering then retreating under the onslaught. This rapidly turned into a rout. At this juncture Hunyadi ordered a general retreat back to the fortress of Alba Iulia. The Ottomans do not appear to have pursued the Hungarians as Hunyadi seems to have extracted the majority of his troops, certainly they were sufficiently intact to advance on Sibiu only weeks afterwards. The Ottomans instead scattered and looted the surrounding area before returning to the main army at Sibiu. It is probable given the lack of pursuit by the Ottomans and the relative lack of casualties that this was a small scale battle and that the Hungarians had a numbers advantage. The Ottoman deployment was unusual in that they anchored both flanks of terrain difficult to cross. Usually the Ottomans preferred open battlefields where their light horse to flank and envelope their opponents. This also suggests that their army was smaller than that of the Hungarians.

Main Source- Ioan Thuroczi, Chronica Hungarorum 1488
Historia Pannonica sive Hungaricarum rerum decades IV et dimidia- Bonfinius


Hermanstadt (Sibiu or Nagyszeben) 22 March 1442
     Reinforced by additional levies, including contingents of Szekeler and Saxons under the Royal 'Jude' Anton Trautenberger, Hunyadi advanced on Sibiu. The Hungarians also had a detachment of Transylvanian Wallachians under Basarab, son of Dan II, who Hunyadi wanted to place on the throne of Wallachia. Mezid, Bey of Vidin drew up his army somewhere near Sibiu, the precise location has never been identified.
     Dispositions of the armies are not known however certain assumptions can be made from the source descriptions of the battle. Both armies appear to have deployed strong infantry centres with cavalry on the wings. Additionally Hunyadi strengthened at least one of the flanks with Tabor warwagons. Both armies also appear to have had a reserve. The Ottomans a infantry reserve massed behind their centre. The Hungarians had a hvy cavalry reserve under Janos Hunyadi either behind the centre or on one of the flanks.
     The battle began with a general advance on the part of the Hungarians. Initially the Hungarians succeeded in pushing back the Ottoman centre. A counter attack by the Ottoman centre and reserves successfully contained the Hungarian centre, possibly killing their commander in the process (see below). The Ottomans initiated a general attack at this point believing the battle won. Hunyadi launched his reserve along with warwagons (possibly with light guns mounted on them) against one of the Ottoman wings, breaking it. Bonfinius further describes Hungarian captives behind the Ottomans rising up and attacking them. More likely detachments of the Hungarian army had worked their way around the Ottoman flanks. The attacks to the rear and the broken flank caused panic amongst the Ottomans who fled, leaving Mezid and his son dead on the battlefield. Basarab and his Wallachians apparently pursued the fleeing Ottomans deep into Wallachia.

     There is a story associated with this battle in which Mezid ordered his army to focus their efforts in killing Hunyadi. These orders having reached Hunyadi led to a certain Simon Kamonyai wearing Hunyadi's armour and carrying Hunyadi's Voivode of Transylvania standard and leading the Hungarian centre. Simon Kamonyai was also apparently accompanied by Hunyadi's elite Szekely bodyguard. Kamonyai was killed in the Ottoman counter attack on the centre, where upon the Ottomans believing Hunyadi dead and his army's morale ruined pressed home the attack. At this stage Hunyadi unfurled his personal standard and led the attack on one of the Ottoman wings.
This story may well be a heroic invention as such events are popular for the period. As with many such stories though there may be truth mixed in. At its most basic its likely that the Hungarian commander of the centre was killed and the Ottomans expected to exploit this and Hunyadi in turn exploited the Ottoman's commitment of their reserve to attack elsewhere.

Main Source- Ioan Thuroczi, Chronica Hungarorum 1488
Historia Pannonica sive Hungaricarum rerum decades IV et dimidia- Bonfinius


Vasaq 2-6th September1442
     Sa'd ed-din Pasha Beylerbey of Rumelia leading army of some 80,000 men was ordered by the Sultan to invade Wallachia and turn it into a Dar-al-Ahd (dependent territory). He was also commanded to invade Transylvania. His army contained Janissaries and six Bey and Sandjek Beys from Anatolia and their troops. Basarab, Hunyadi's candidate for the throne of Wallachia had been enthroned as Prince of Wallachia after the battle of Hermanstadt (Sibiu). The reality appears to be that Basarab with Hungarian support had managed to raise a revolt in Wallachia and gain control of parts of the Country. Sa'd ed-din's army was too large for Basarab to confront on his own and he retreated along with his followers into the mountains to await reinforcements from Hungary. Sa'd ed-din split of elements of his army to pursue Basrab and to plunder the countryside, the majority of his forces moved up the valley of the Ialomita river. Hunyadi and Basarab's troops confronted the Ottomans at a narrowing of the valley, described by Thuriczi as the iron gate. This description has led to the battle been mistakenly described as being fought near The Iron Gate on the river Danube. In fact Thuriczi was actually using the name to describe the terrain of the battlefield.
     The Hungarians described as 'peasants, townspeople and Szekelers' numbered some 15,000 men. They drew up in the narrowest part of the valley, the walls being described as mountainous. Once again the infantry was draw up in the centre with Tabor warwagons on their flanks and their rear as well. The wagons were in turn flanked by cavalry. The Ottoman dispositions are not described in the sources.
     True to his previous successful offensive tactics Hunyadi attacked. His infantry centre may have been supported by warwagons in their advance. The battle was hard fought with the Ottoman army not breaking until near dark. The Ottomans lost some 20,000 men, 200 standards, 5,000 camels, horse and mules. Sa'd ed-din and the remnants of his army successfully retreated and crossed the Danube, Hungarian pursuit apparently being light. The majority of the Hungarians instead were hunting down the Ottoman forces that had been sent raiding the Wallachian countryside and in a series of clashes destroyed them, the last apparently being on the 6th of September.

     Both Thuriczi and Chalkondyles make the point that this battle marks a change in Hunyadi's strategic tactics. From this battle Hunyadi takes the war away from Hungary's borders. This policy would continue up until the battle of Kossevo in 1448.
Main Source- Ioan Thuroczi, Chronica Hungarorum 1488
Historia Pannonica sive Hungaricarum rerum decades IV et dimidia- Bonfinius
Laonic Chalkondyles, Historical Chronicles

 


The Long campaign 1443-1444
     Preparations for an offensive began as early as the end of 1442. Cardinal Cesarini brokered a peace between Elizabeth and King Ulászló I. News reached Hungary during June or July that Murad II had been badly defeated in Anatolia fighting against the rebels of Carmania. There are documents that show Janos Hunyadi requested wagons, gunpowder and artillery from the Transylvania towns, particularly Brasov in the months of March, June and July 1443.. Hunyadi also received large sums of money from the Serbian prince Brancovich. With this and his own money Hunyadi raised some 10,000 to 12,000 men comprised Czech, German, Poles, Serbians and Transylvanians. Mercenaries apparently making up the majority of the force, though Hunyadi also allowed serf soldiers to join his forces as well. Hunyadi also equipped some 600 Tabor warwagons. Combined with the Royal troops, Serbians under Brancovich and Wallachian troops under their own leaders the Hungarian force numbered some 35,000 men. The army finally entered Ottoman territory in September 1443. The delay apparently being caused by Jiskra's refusal to honour the peace brokered by Cesarini until September 1st. Hunyadi was appointed military CinC of the campaign.
     The lateness of the campaign start took the Ottomans by surprise and they were unable to prevent Hunyadi's rapid advance. Ishak, the Bey of Semendria attempted to stop or at least delay Hunyadi's advance at the river Morava. Fighting with the river to their rear the Ottomans were outflanked and defeated and forced to retreat over the river. Hunyadi leading some 12,000 cavalry, his Transylvanians and those troops of Nicholas Ujlaki rapidly advanced ahead of the main army and seized the town of Nis. Nis was the main muster town for the Ottoman troops of Vidin and Nis. Hunyadi's advance troops were able to attack and defeat three separate Ottoman detachments as they advanced to mass on the town. While at Nis Hunyadi received word that Murad II had made peace with the Emir of Carmania and had returned to Adrianople. With Murad II mustering troops Hunyadi returned to the main army just in time to join it in defeating another Ottoman army made up of a fresh detachment and remnants of the detachments defeated around Nis.
     Hunyadi's victories led to additional Serbs from the Ottoman occupied territories joining the army. In addition a small Wallachian force under Mircea, son of Vlad Dracul also arrived to assist the Hungarians. Vlad Dracul had regained the throne from Basarab, Hunyadi's installed candidate, with the help of the Ottomans. Hunyadi's successes however led Dracul to hedge his bets and so Mircea was dispatched to provide assistance.
     20th November Hunyadi defeated the Beylerbey of Rumelia, killing some 2,000 and taking at least 4,000 prisoners. Significantly more casualties were inflicted on the Ottomans by the local population as they retreated. The Hungarian army was able to advance on Sofia and take the city without further fighting.
     Murad reinforced the detachments holding the mountain passes through which Hunyadi would have to march to attack Adrianople or reach Constantinople. Hunyadi instead of taking the most direct passes through the mountains instead cut east presumably hoping to overwhelm these passes before Murad could bring his army to their aid. On the 12th of December at the village of Zlatitsa Hunyadi decided to make his attempt but found an Ottoman army under the Grand Vizier Halil-Pasha already dug in behind palisades.
     Halil-Pasha seeing the size of the Hungarian army decided to give battle and advanced beyond his defences. The Hungarians were successful in pushing the Ottomans back behind their defensive line but were unable to make any further headway. Hunyadi continued to probe the passes around Zlatitsa but was unable to force his way through. On the 23rd of December the Sultan arrived with additional troops and Hunyadi ordered the retreat back to Hungary. On the 24th somewhere near Melstitsa, the vanguard of the Ottomans under the Beylerbey of Rumelia attacked the retreating Hungarians. Hunyadi reacted quickly and defeated the Ottomans convincing Murad to pursue 'at a distance' and await his chance.
     The Hungarina retreat was disciplined despite severe supply problems, including the loss of most of their wagons and horses. Murad not given an opportunity to strike directly at the Hungarians instead concentrated his efforts on the forces of the Serbian Prince Brancovich which were retreating separately. Near Kunovitsa the Ottomans surprised the Serbs and scattered them. In turn Hunyadi was able to surprise the Ottoman vanguard shortly after the battle and disperse them, capturing Mahmud Celebi, the Grand Viziers Brother and the Sultan's brother in law. The capture of this man appears to have been the catalyst for a truce, Murad stopped his pursuit and the Hungarians were able to withdraw to their own borders.
     The Long campaign was not an unqualified success, the army had suffered severely from supply problems and had lost all their warwagons and supply wagons. However Hunyadi had proved that with a large disciplined force of mercenaries the Hungarians were more than capable of taking on Ottomans forces far larger than their own. The army was in the field for six months, four of which in Ottoman territory. It had advanced some 300 kilometres into Ottoman territory, fought seven major battles, innumerable skirmishes and managed to retreat in good order. The campaign was seen in Western Europe as a glorious success. It did however sowed the seeds for the disaster at Varna the following year.


Sources
Hunyadi's letter to Nicholas Ujlaki 8th November 1443, in Hurmuzaki, p687
Ioan Thuroczi, Chronica Hungarorum 1488
Historia Pannonica sive Hungaricarum rerum decades IV et dimidia- Bonfinius


The Battle Of Varna 1444

     January 1444 the Army returned from the long campaign and is disbanded. At the Hungarian Diet in April Cardinal Cesarini announced the formation of a coalition against the Turks. Besides the Pope and Ulászló, Philip the Good of Burgundy, Venice and Genoa all pledged their support for the enterprise. On April the 14th in front of the Diet Cardinal Cesarini took Ulászló's oath that with in the year he would lead a fresh campaign against the Ottomans. The basic plan put forward was that fleets from Venice, Genoa and the Papacy would block the sea routes from Asia Minor to the Balkans by cutting the straits between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean. A Crusading army led by Hunyadi and Ulászló would recapture all of the Ottomans European provinces.
     Even as the Diet was discussing the forth coming campaign, Ulászló was in negotiation with George Brankovic, Prince of Serbia. Brankovic was the father-in-law of the Ottoman Sultan Murad II. This distinction had not saved him from having his lands ravaged and two of his sons blinded for assisting their father in resisting the Ottomans. Murad II through his wife Mara Brankovic offered Brankovic the return of all his lands if he could organise a truce between Hungary and the Ottoman Empire. Overtures apparently began in March with Brankovic approaching Hunyadi. It should be noted that Brankovic was also a Hungarian Noble by virtue of the massive estates he held there. In return for Brankovic's estates Hunyadi was to convince the King that peace with the Sultan was worthwhile. Ulászló did sign the treaty with the Ottomans and Hunyadi did take control over Brankovic's estates. Whether there was an intended deception of the Ottomans or not, Ulászló broke the treaty almost immediately. The King was able to mount the campaign almost immediately. An army mustered from Royal, Episcopal troops and from Transylvania numbering some 16,000 men crossed the Danube on the 20th September. Possibly because of the relatively short period between the Long campaign and this one, the Hungarian army was smaller and very imbalanced. It contained almost no infantry, except 100 to 300 Czech mercenary handgunners. There were also 100 warwagons probably with crews, though none are mentioned. The rest of the army was heavy cavalry, mostly Royal and foreign mercenaries, with some Episcopal and Noble banners as well.
     The plan of the campaign is well recorded. Whilst Papal, Venetian and Genoese ships blockaded the Dardanelle straits the Hungarian army was to advance on the coastal town of Varna. There they would met up with elements of the Papal fleet and move down the coast to Constantinople, pushing the Ottomans out of the Balkans as they went.
     The Hungarian advance was rapid, fortresses were bypassed and the Ottomans refused to give battle. Near Nicopolis on the 16th of October a contingent of some 4,000 Wallachians under one of Vlad Drakul's son's joined the Hungarians. The son was probably Micea though no direct evidence exists, later sources attribute the leader as Drakula but this is unreliable as it is used to show early signs of his perfidy.
     Continuing their rapid advance the army reached Varna on the 9th of November. That night the Hungarians were surprised to discover a massive Ottoman army encamped to their West and South. The Hungarians were essentially trapped. The Black sea to the East and heavily forested hills and marshes to the North. The chroniclers describe the discussions of the Hungarian war council. Cesarini and many of the nobles were for fortifying themselves with in a wagon laager and waiting for the Papal fleet to arrive. Hunyadi convinced them that this course of action would only lead to disaster and that the only possible way to extract themselves was by offering battle. Hunyadi was appointed commander of the army and it was decided to give battle the next day.

Deployment
     Bonfinius describes the Hungarian deployment as an arc or crescent shape between the Devina Lake and the Frangen hills. The line was some 1,000 paces long and shaped as it was so that the right of the line was facing both to the front and towards the Frangen hills. To the rear of the Hungarians, backed onto the Black sea was the camp and wagon laager, defended by drivers and the 300 Czech mercenary soldiers. The lack of any significant numbers of infantry clearly caused Hunyadi problems, his deployment was such as to minimise the risk to the right of Ottoman infantry moving through the hills and falling on the exposed end of the line.
     The left of the Hungarian line was commanded by Michael Szilagyi, Hunyadi's brother in law. His force was almost entirely made up of Hunyadi's Transylvanian troops and German mercenaries and also banners of Hungarian Magnates, a total of 5,000 men, organised into 5 Banners. The centre was held by the King's Polish and Hungarian bodyguards, Hungarian Royal mercenaries and banners of Hungarian Nobles. They numbering some 3,500 men and were organised into 2 banners. The Hungarian Royal mercenaries under Stefan Batori, the rest possibly under the joint command of Hunyadi and King Ulászló. The right of the Hungarian army was the largest, numbering some 6,500 men, divided into 5 banners. The breakdown of the right wing was, in overall command was Bishop Jan Dominek of Varadin with his personal banner. Cardinal Cesarini commanding two banners of German mercenaries/crusaders, the Bishop of Erlau commanding his own banner and The military Governor of Slavonia, Talotsi, commanding one banner. Unlike the rest of the Hungarian army these banners were deployed very deep, three banners to the front and two to the rear. Behind the centre of the Hungarian army the Wallachians were deployed in reserve.

     The Ottomans deployed with the Spahis of Rumelia on their right, numbering some 15 to 20,000. The Spahis of Anatolia on the left numbering somewhere around 15,000 men. The centre was comprised entirely of infantry, the Sultan's Janissaries and the levies from Rumelia, numbering some 10,000 in all. The centre was dug in behind ditches and barricades and was deployed behind the line of the cavalry wings. There was an additional force of Janissary/ azab archers and Akinji light horse deployed in the Frangen hills.

The Battle
     The Ottomans began the attack with their left in concert with the troops occupying the Frangen hills. Almost immediately the Hungarian battle plan came apart, The Bishops of Erlau and Varadin launched their banners at the attacking Ottomans, fracturing the Hungarian line and exposing the centre's flank. The Banners of the Bishops pushed deep into the Ottoman line but were rapidly surrounded. Talotsi led the remaining banners of the wing to their aid.

Opening Phase Map

     At this juncture sources differ as to What happened. Bonfinius implausibly describes Hunyadi leading the majority of the centre and the left wing in an attack on the Ottoman right, with the aim of aiding his beleaguered right! All other sources either imply or state that the Ottoman right was instead ordered to attack their Hungarian counterparts. Once the Ottoman right was engaged with the Hungarian left Hunyadi personally led Batori's Banner in an attack on the flank of the Ottomans right. Bonfinius at least agrees that Hunyadi's line was able to overlap the Ottomans causing them to recoil, then withdraw. This withdrawal may or may not have been a rout what is certain is that the Rumelia forces retreated a significant distance away from the battle. Parts of the Hungarian left pursued then began looting. The Wallachians had advanced at this point to occupy the part of the line left vacant by Hunyadi's attack on the Ottomans. The success of the Hungarian left was immediately tempered by the collapse of Hungarian right. Only Talotsi and his banner were able to extract themselves in any kind of order. They were able to withdraw to the wagon laager and take refuge within it. The rest of the Hungarian right dispersed and fled. The Wallachians moved away from their position in the centre and headed away from the battle, subsequently looting parts of the Ottoman camp before retiring in good order back to Wallachia.

Middle Phase Map

     At this stage the battle remained almost evenly matched, each army had lost a wing, though the Ottomans was arguably in reasonable order. Hunyadi lead the elements of the Hungarian left and centre that had remained in good order towards the now disorganised Ottoman left. Almost the entire Hungarian army, now including the Royal Hungarian Guards attacked the Ottoman left. Despite their disorder the Ottoman left was able to put up spirited resistance and it was only when the Beylerbey of Anatolia was killed that they broke and fled the field. Despite the odds the Hungarian army had successfully destroyed or neutralised over 35,000 Ottoman cavalry, leaving the Sultan on the battlefield, isolated with only infantry, most of dubious quality.

End Phase Map

     Bonfinius describes how what could have been one of Hunyadi's greatest victories was turned rapidly into a crushing defeat. Bonfinius records Hunyadi warning Ulászló to wait until the army had reformed before engaging the Ottoman infantry but Ulászló disregarding this advice and being urged by his Polish bodyguard to seize the opportunity for glory. Ulászló charged the Ottoman Janissaries and inevitably despite initial success was overwhelmed and killed. The Hungarian army broke up into small groups and retreated. The Ottoman troops did not pursue for at least a day, apparently the losses were sufficient for Murad to state 'may Allah never grant me another such victory'.

The aftermath
     Casualties for the battle are variously recorded in the sources. What seems certain is that Ottomans suffered significant losses, they refused to actively pursue the retreating Hungarians and retired to their camp after the battle. Hungarian casualties are often portrayed as massive, one letter stating only four Noblemen made it back to the borders of Hungary! The most common figure for Hungarian losses puts the figure at 10,000 men at of 16,000. What ever the reality of Hungarian losses they were in essence replaceable. The majority of the force were mercenaries. Unlike Mohacs of the following century the Hungarian presence was actually limited and Hunyadi's military and political power in Hungary suffered only marginally. It should also be noted that the major commanders of the army, Szilagyi, Hunyadi and Talotsi all managed to return to Hungary. Hunyadi retreated through Wallachia where according to popular accounts he was held prisoner by Vlad Drakul. Though Hunyadi was held briefly by the Wallachians it appears to have been a mistake on the part of a local Wallachian Noble rather than at the direct order of Drakul. Certainly the period immediately after Varna shows quite cordial relations between the two which is rather at odds with the popularist account of his capture.

Main Source- Ioan Thuroczi, Chronica Hungarorum 1488
Historia Pannonica sive Hungaricarum rerum decades IV et dimidia- Bonfinius
Laonic Chalkondyles, Historical Chronicles


Kossovopolje 1448

     In the year 1448 Hunyadi was in a position to once again attack the Ottomans. His objectives were not as ambitious as those of the Varna campaign. Hunyadi aimed to link with Scanderbeg and his Albanian rebels, then conquer Macedonia and Southern Serbia. In this way the European domain of the Ottoman Empire would be split in two. Hunyadi gathered his army on the banks of the Danube. Given the limitations of the General Levy Hunyadi preferred to rely on personal ties and troops under his direct command. As a result the core of his army was from Transylvania with the only major Hungarian contingents supplied by Franko of Talovak, Ban of Dalmatia and Croatia and his Brother-in-laws, Micheal Szilagyi and Janos Szekely. Hunyadi's army marched into Serbia making quick progress but unlike previous occasions the Serbians did not join the army in any significant numbers. At Kossovopolje Hunyadi rested the army either waiting for Scanderbeg or prior to marching to join Scanderbeg.
     On October 17th Hunyadi's forces were surprised by detachments of Murad's army moving onto the Kossovo plain to their North. An unwelcome surprise, even more for Hunyadi as he was under the belief that Murad and the main Ottoman forces were campaigning in Asia Minor.
Hunyadi now faced a difficult decision, either retreat further into Serbian territory, away from Hungary and face the possibility of attacks on his marching army or stand and fight. Though not the ideal position from which to fight, the Kossovo plain at least well scouted by Hunyadi and his officers. Hunyadi's first course of action was to dispatch much of his light horse to block the passes towards Pristina, they were successful though the clashes are described as 'bloody'. By the end of the day the entire Ottoman army was deployed on the southern bank of the Lab river, with hills to their east and the river Sitnica protecting their Western flank. The Ottoman camp was positioned on the Northern bank of the Lab river. The distance between the two encampments was some 4 to 5 kilometres.

The Armies.

Hungarians
     Hunyadi's army numbered in the region of 24 to 30,000. Included in this total was a Wallachian force maybe numbering as high as 10,000 men under Dan, Prince of Wallachia. See notes as to the likely composition of this force and why I have accredited the command to Dan rather than the more usually mentioned Vladislav II.
     The rest of Hunyadi's force was a mix of infantry and cavalry. 2,000 to 3,000 German handgunners are mentioned in the sources, as are Transylvanian infantry. Along with the infantry there were warwagons, though their numbers are not known. The army was accompanied by a supply train of some 2,000 wagons. The sources say that many of these wagons also pulled cannons. Hunyadi was apparently very well equipped with artillery for this campaign, presumably to reduce Ottoman strongholds in Albania and Macedonia. One such model of cannon is mentioned by name, the Zarobotana (a corruption of the Italian Cerbottana) meaning a cannon capable of firing at longer ranges than normal. The cavalry were mostly Heavy cavalry a mix of Mercenaries and the banners of Hungarian Nobles. Light cavalry was also present in significant numbers, the bulk provided by Wallachians and Transylvanians, presumably Szekely. There were sufficient numbers of light cavalry to form skirmish screens in front of both wings of the army.

The Ottomans
     The Ottoman army has been variously estimated from 50,000 to 400,000 men! The Turkish Sources closest to the time put the figure at between 50,000 to 60,000 men. The army was comprised of the Spahis levy of both Rumelia and Anatolia and the Sultans personal army of Janissaries and court cavalry. The similarity in the sizes given and those for the Ottoman army at the battle of Varna, 60,000 seems to be the reasonable upper limit.

18 October 1448

The Hungarian Deployment, 18th October.
     Hunyadi had placed his camp on a hill which dominated the land around it. The supply wagons were used to build a fortified area. His large artillery train was placed amongst and on these wagons, giving them a dominating field of fire towards the Ottoman camp.
     Hunyadi deployed his cavalry in front of his fortified camp in two lines. The first line comprised of a heavy cavalry centre with wings of light horse. The heavy cavalry of the centre were the banners of Transylvania, Slovenia and Croatia under the command of Janos Szekely and Franko of Talovak. The light horse of the left flank was personally commanded by Voivode Dan, presumably his Transylvanians and Wallachians. The right flank's first line light horse was under the command of Benedict Losonczi. Behind the first line Hunyadi positioned a second line of entirely heavy cavalry. He personally commanded the centre of the second line comprised of Royal troops, mercenaries and some banners of Transylvanians. The left flank's heavy cavalry was under the command of Stephan Banffy. The right flank's were also under Benedict Losonczi who positioned his standard and commanded from the middle of the Knights. Both flanks heavy cavalry appear to have been made up of banners from the Hungarian Magnates who had been willing to follow Hunyadi. The third line of the Hungarian army was the infantry, massed behind the fortifications of the camp and the warwagons. Behind or possibly in the camp there was an additional reserve of cavalry. The description of the third line's defences is general in nature but it is not unreasonable to assume that the warwagons formed the front of the camp. Hunyadi's basic battle plan appears to have been to attack with the cavalry and if they were hard pressed to retreat behind or through the fortified third line of the infantry and regroup. The infantry, warwagons and cannons providing the protection whilst they reorganised. The total number of banners of cavalry, including light horse is given as 38.

The Ottoman deployment, 18th October
     The Ottomans deployed in front of the south bank of the River Lab, their right flank resting on the Sitnica river. Going against tradition the forces of Anatolia were positioned on the right. The Rumelia were positioned on the left in advance of the centre and the right. Both flanks comprised entirely of cavalry, two lines of Spahis with multiple lines of Akinjis skirmishers and other levy light horse to their front. The centre of the Ottoman deployment was held by the Sultan and the infantry, in 3 lines. The rearmost line was that of Janissaries with the Sultan, the second line was artillery, dug in behind redoubts. Around the Janissaries and the artillery was a further defensive ditch and surrounding this on three sides was the first line of infantry made up of Azab levies.

The Battle, 18th October
     The Ottomans began the battle with an attack by the Rumelian cavalry on the Hungarian right. As soon as they advanced the Hungarian light horse line retreated in good order behind their heavy cavalry supports. Fierce fighting followed with the Hungarians holding but being unable to make head way. Hunyadi fed some of his central units into the fight on his right. The Ottomans then launched the Anatolian cavalry against Banffy and Dan's commands. Dan's Wallachians also manoeuvred behind their heavy cavalry support though then deployed on their far left, presumably to cover the exposed flank, which did not have the terrain coverage of the right. The Anatolians pushed the Hungarians back but were stopped when Hunyadi led part of the central command into the fighting.

Map- Opening Phase


At this point the Ottoman Azab infantry attacked the now weakened Hungarian centre. They cracked the centre of the line but were halted by cannon fire from the wagon fortifications. The line was sealed by a counter attack by the Hungarian infantry.
     With the Ottoman centre and right held, Hunyadi fed more reserves into the fight on his right flank. Parts of the Rumelia troops broke and fled into the hills surrounding the area. The rest managed a controlled withdrawal to their camp. At this stage the rest of the Ottomans forces broke off combat and retreated. Hunyadi also retreated to his camp.

Map- End of phase

The night of 18th October
     The sources for the aftermath of the first day are at odds about what happened during the night. Chakondyles states that the Hungarians launched a night attack against the Ottoman camp but were repulsed by the Janissaries. Hunyadi in a letter to the dean of Cracow (30 December 1448) merely mentions a continuous exchange of cannon fire. What does seem clear is that the Hungarians expected the Ottoman's to retreat the following day as was their usual tactic when unable to force the issue in a single days fighting. The Hungarians put the day's casualties as 15,000 to 16,000 Ottoman dead, the majority from the Rumelia contingent. The Ottomans though do not appear to have suffered any where near this number and the majority of the Anatolian contingent had not even been engaged that day. The deployment and course of the battle the next day do suggest that Rumelia forces were badly weakened.


Battle 19th October

Ottoman deployment
     The Ottoman deployment mirrored the previous day. Except that the cavalry of Thessaly were removed from the Rumelia contingent and sent on a flank march around the Hungarian army. The Sultan ordered Turakhan, the Beylerbey of Rumelia to lead it himself. The remaining combat worthy troops of Rumelia were ordered to take up their previous positions.

Hungarian deployment
     Hunyadi either divined that the focus of the day's battle would be his left flank or was informed of the Sultan's intentions by deserters. Either way Hunyadi strengthened his left by moving Janos Szekely and his men from the centre to the left and adding in his cavalry reserves. Bonfinius records that Szekely was placed in command of the left, all other sources say Banffy retained command. His right flank's deployment remained the same as the previous day's. Hunyadi deployed most of infantry as part of his centre, they were accompanied by the more mobile of his artillery pieces.

The Battle 19th October
     The Ottomans began the attack with the cavalry of Anatolia. They were held by the reinforced Hungarian right. The weakened Ottoman left began skirmishing with the Hungarians to their front and Losonczi was hard pressed to prevent them slipping behind the Hungarian lines.
With both flanks in a stalemate Hunyadi lead his centre against the Ottoman infantry. The Azabs were driven away by artillery fire and the Hungarian infantry attack. The Ottoman artillery and Janissaries were able to halt the advancing Hungarian infantry. However the addition of the Hungarian cavalry, personally lead by Hunyadi broke through the Janissary line.

Map- Opening Phase Day2

With the situation precarious for the Sultan, he ordered the main baggage camp commander, Sinan-bey to reinforce the centre with his camp guards and the army followers. This ill-armed force was sufficient to stabilise the Ottoman line and allow the Janissaries to recover their cohesion. With this failure Hunyadi retreated his centre back to its original positions.
     The battle stalemated at this point, the Hungarian right was under pressure but holding and their left was unable to make headway against the Ottoman skirmishers. At this juncture Turakhan and the Thessalonians cavalry arrived behind the Hungarian left wing. Unable to manoeuvre to respond to the threat Dan and his Wallachians were rapidly overwhelmed and forced to surrender. The Anatolians began to rollup the Hungarian flank. Hunyadi ordered the retreat back to camp. The Hungarian centre and left retired in good order but their right was decimated and Szekely was killed in the fighting.

Map- End phase Day2

The aftermath
     Hunyadi decided to retreat in the early hours of that morning. Micheal Szilagyi led a feint with some of the cavalry, allowing Hunyadi to exit the camp with the majority of the army. Szilagyi would be captured in the course of this diversion. Hunyadi also left part of his infantry to cover his withdrawal. It would take the Ottomans the best part of the morning to overwhelm the camp, by this time Hunyadi and most of his army had successfully broken contact from the Ottoman forces.
Over the two days the Hungarians are said to have lost as many as 17,000 men or as little as 6,000 men. The difference in the two could be due to the differing versions as what happened to the Wallachians. Excluded from the 6,000 as they had swapped sides. The Ottomans are said to have lost between 30,000 and 40,000 troops, though Chalkondyles puts it at only 4,000 men. Chalkondyles figure does seem unlikely given how badly Rumelian troops suffered on the first day and the two defeats suffered by the Azab infantry. The truth probably lies somewhere in-between the two figures. Like Varna, there seems to have been a very limited pursuit only.
     Hunyadi was captured by Brankovitch, Prince of Serbia, during his retreat and it would take until December before his return to Hungary. Unlike Varna Kossovopolje weakened his domestic support and gave rise to a period of instability and the end of Hunyadi's aggressive policies towards the Ottomans.

Notes on the Battle of Kossovo

Wallachian troops and their commander?
     The name of the commander is not known for certain, Later chroniclers such as Bonfinius name him as Vladislav II, Prince of Wallachia from 1447 until 1456. However there is no contemporary source that places Vladislav at the battle of Kossovopolje. In 1448 a Hungarian army under instructions from Hunyadi assisted Dan, a Wallachian noble, and his forces to depose Vlad Drakul. Once Dan was declared Vioviode of Wallachia the Hungarians withdrew. Dan however was unable to retain the throne as other nobles attempted to emulate him but with Ottoman support. Hunyadi interfered again and captured and blinded the main Ottoman candidate. Hunyadi did not however return Dan to the throne, instead he supported Vladislav another noble with links to the Ottomans. It appears that Hunyadi supported Vladislav as a compromise, at least securing the neutrality of Wallachia. Ottoman chroniclers describe Vladislav as a friend to the Ottomans and a personal friend to the Ottoman commander of Nicopolis. Given that Vladislav retained the throne until 1456 and appears to have enjoyed good relations with the Ottomans for most of that period his appearance at Kossovopolje on the side of the Hungarians is unlikely. Voiviode Dan however had every reason to assist the Hungarians as they offered his only chance of regaining the throne of Wallachia. It is also possible that Dan had retained control of the Western part of Wallachia, with Hungarian support. It is also uncertain exactly what troops were with Dan at the battle. They are attributed as being Wallachian, it is however possible that these were a mix of true Wallachians and Transylvanian Wallachians, Muresanu in his description of the battle says Hunyadi assigned troops to his command, though does not give the source of the information. The common interpretation of the battle is that the Wallachian contingent swapped sides causing the defeat and were subsequently massacred by Murad. The Ottoman chroniclers however make it quite clear that Dan and his Wallachians were captured during the battle, after being struck in the rear by a detachment of the Ottoman army and forced to surrender. The chroniclers go as far as to name the commander of this force as the Beylerbey of Rumelia, Turakhan-Bey. The subsequent massacre makes sense if these were rebels against Vladislav II.


Belgrade 1456

In 1455 news reached the Hungarian court that the Ottomans were massing a warfleet on the Danube and mustering men and supplies. The conqueror of Constantinople, Mehmed II, made no secret of his desire to add Hungary and Serbia to his Empire.

April 1456 the Hungarian diet was convened with the purpose of organising Hungary's defence. A general mobilisation was declared and a plea was sent to the Pope for support. It was hoped that Papal ships could intercept or at least hinder the movement of Ottoman troops from Anatolia. Much to the dismay of many Hungarian Nobles king Ladislas V took this moment to go on a hunting trip, one that was based in Vienna and would only end after the Ottoman threat had passed. The nobles despite their personal mistrust of him turned to Janos Hunyadi for leadership. Hunyadi was once again in effective control over Hungary.
Hunyadi reinforced the fortresses along the Danube particularily Belgrade whose strategic position made it the mostly likely target fot the Ottomans. Hunyadi is recorded as sending over 5000 mercenaries to Belgrade. Described as a mix of Hungarians, Czechs and Poles. Hunyadi's long term planning was paying dividends, not only had he initiated repairs and the building of fresh defences as far back as 1442 but he had also managed to ensure that the commander of the Belgrade fortress was an excellent soldier and his personal friend Micheal Szilagyi. As it became clear that Belgrade was the likely target of the Ottomans the inhabitants rallied to Szilagyi and provided him with an enthusastic militia but more importantly the manpower to further improve the city's defences.
With the initial defence of Belgrade taken care of Hunyadi set about raising a field army and gaining allies. Hunyadi's focus was Wallachia for two main reasons. Firstly the current Wallachian ruler, Vladislav II, was an ally of the Ottomans and had in 1455 with the assistance of Ottoman troops raided and plundered across Southern Transylvania. The effect of this was that Hunyadi was unable to remove many of his most trustworthy and reliable troops as they were required to guard against further Wallachian incursions. Hunyadi initially attempted diplomacy but this appears to have had little effect as Vladislav subsequently supported a rebellion in the Hungarian controlled city of Fagaras in early April 1456. Hunyadi responded with a rebellion of his own, he gave the son of a previous Wallachian king men and money. Prince Vlad, later famous as the 'impaler', gained rapid support from the Wallachian Boyars and by the end of June 1456 had killed Vladislav and was undisputed king of Wallachia. Vlad's rebellion was sufficently successful from the outset that Hunyadi was able to pull most of his personal troops out of Transylvania to the muster point at the city of Seghedin. Unfortunately the Saxon elements of Transylvania ignored Hunyadi's requests as it had been their lands that had suffered the greatest in the Wallachian incursions. There are three letters from Hunyadi in three weeks to the Saxon leaders asking them to join the muster at Seghedin. There is no evidence that Saxon troops arrived to help.

Hunyadi also turned to the Serbs and Albanians for support. There ae no details of any communications between George Brankovitch and Hunyadi, however unlike the capaign of 1448 which ended badly for the Hungarians at the Battle of Kossovo this time Serbian support was emphatic and wide spread. The local Serb population around Belgrade added considerably to the defenders of the city. A Serbian army of some 9000 men attacked the Ottoman main army as it advanced up the pass of Moravia towards Belgrade. It was outnumbered at least four to one, and had little hope of success. The Serbs lost the engagement but in doing so gained Hunyadi more time to organise his forces.


Scanderbeg of Albania responded to Hunyadi's request for help and gathered an army but was unable to come to his aid. At the same time as the Ottoman army was advancing on Belgrade a secondary force attacked Albania directly. This was presumably to prevent Albanian assistance to the Hungarians but also as a continuation of the previous year's campaign.


A further blow to Hunyadi was the refusal of most of Hungary's senior noblemen to participate in the campaign. Many citing the King's absence as reason enough. Only those with a vested interested mustered as required. Nobles with estates in Southern Hungary rallied to Hunyadi as did many of the minor noblemen whose causes Hunyadi had championed over the years. This gave Hunyadi a field force of some 15,000 men, about half were said to be mercenaries or transylvanian troops. Despite the small number these were on the whole very experianced, especially Hunyadi's banderium and Transylvanian troops.
There was however an unexpected development throughout Hungary, Serbia and even the Holy Roman Empire . Priests and monks had been spreading the news of the Ottoman threat to Belgrade and preached a crusade to come to Hungary's aid. Chief amongst these was the Monk inquisitor John Capistrano who since late 1455 had been persecuting anyone not of the Catholic faith in Transylvania. Despite the adverse reaction to his inquistion amongst the Nobles and the general population his call to arms struck a cord and soon people were flooding to his crusading banner. Some were minor Nobles who had previously been restrained by ties to Noblemen hostile to Hunyadi but most were common people. Descriptions of these crusaders vary but all are consistant in that they were badly armed and equipped, most only having slings and clubs. Though some had spears, horses and armour. The crusaders made their way to the camp at Seghedin, many arriving after the final battle for Belgrade. By the end of June some contempories estimated that there were over 60,000 crusaders gathered at the camp. A more realistic figure is given by a fellow crusader and collaborator of Capistrano, a Giovanni Tagliacozzo, who wrote from Belgrade shortly after the relief of the city that there were some 27-280000. This figure may well include the population of Belgrade who also fought in the last days of the siege and the militias of Southern Hungary and Transylvania.

Early in June Hunyadi moved his army down the Danube to Kubin (Kovin?) and just after the 22nd crossed the river to its Southern bank. In a series of skirmishes Hunyadi slowly retreated towards Belgrade. Large parts of the Ottoman army was able to bypass his skirmishers and were outside the walls of the city sometime near the end of June. The 2nd of July saw Belgrade reinforced by a large group of crusaders under Capistrano who used five large transport ships to get them into the city. Capistrano attempted to link up with Hunyadi's forces to the south with three of the ships but a storm wrecked them, abandoning them he and his troops returned to Belgrade by foot. By the 4th of July the numbers of Ottomans gathering around Belgrade and the arrival of the Ottoman fleet made Hunyadi's presence on the south side of the Danube very risky. He duly crossed over the Danube and made camp at the fortress of Zemun north east of Belgrade. The 4th was also the day that the first of the Ottoman heavy seige cannons began bombarding the city walls of Belgrade. With the arrival of the Otoman fleet Belgrade found itself under seige. Capistrano withdrew from the city before it was surrounded and returned to Seghedin where he gathered the rest of the available crusaders and marched South to join Hunyadi.
Hunyadi set about commandering all naval vessels he could find and gathered them at Slankamen. Some were military vessels from the Danube fleet but most were transport/merchant ships of varying size. Outfitting these as best he could Hunyadi had a force of some 200 ships with which to attempt a relief of Belgrade. Hunyadi was able to continue communications with Szilagyi in Belgrade and the relief attempt was set for the 14th of July. Once Hunyadi's attack had begun Szilagyi was to launch a sally from the city with the forty or so ships moored at the city docks. Szilagyi crewed the ships with Serbs from the city. The reason given in the contempory sources is that they would do anything to repel the Ottoman invaders. A more cynical reason would be that the the Serb irregulars were more expendable than Szilagyi's few professional troops.

On the 14th of July Hunyadi's fleet sailed towards Belgrade, paced by some 15-20000 infantry on the Southern bank of the river. The core of this infantry were the Transylvanian militia but a large number of Crusaders commanded by Capistrano were also present. One Source mentions a noblemen called Peter carrying the crusader banner. This Peter has never been positively identified however his inclusion and mention of the fact that he was responsible for the Crusader flag probably indicates that he was Hunyadi's man, there to ensure that Capistrano did not make any foolish errors. The role of the infantry was to prevent detachments from the Ottoman army interfering with the naval battle and to capture any Ottoman vessel or crew forced to beach.
The lead ship of the fleet was described as exceptionally powerful and well built. Hunyadi made it his flagship and placed dismounted men at arms on it. The Ottoman fled advanced from the Belgrade blockade to meet them. The fight lasted some 5 hours, finally swung in the Hungarian favour by the arrival of the Belgrade ships. The ottomans lost some ¾ of their ships, either sunk, captured or so badely damaged that the Sultan later had them fired to prevent their capture. The descturction of the Ottoman fleet opened up Belgrade to resupply and each night saw fresh equipment and men shuttled over by ship.
Despite the loss of his fleet the Sultan continued the siege, his artillery train rapidly destroyed the outer walls and small scale assults kept up the pressure on the defenders. The Hungarians were themselves not inactive, their limited amount of artillery were constantly in use, one lucky shot killed the Beylerbey of Rumelia who had been in over all charge of the Ottoman siege works. His death appears to have demoralised or at least dampened the spirits of the Ottoman troops. As a result Mehmed II decided on a general assault to achieve a quick, if bloody, victory.

On the 21st of July the assault was launched. The Ottoman superority of numbers quickly showed as they breached the outer defences and were able to reach the inner fortress before the draw bridge could be raised. Fierce resistance by the Hungarian defenders, including Hunyadi and his banderia saw the Ottomans repulsed from the gateway but not before Janissary sappers had successfully destroyed the draw bridge, preventing the Garrision from easily sallying against them. Despite this set back Crusader troops were able to affect a crossing from the North side of the river Sava and successfully counter attacked the Ottoman troops within Belgrade's outer defences. Additional support from mercenaries in manouverable boats saw the Crusader troops drive the Ottomans out of Belgrade and by evening had recaptured the city.

The following day the Crusader forces and transylvanian militia within Belgrade launched a disorganised surprise attack on the Outer Ottoman seige works. This was supported by the rest of the crusaders in the camps across the Sava river. Fighting was soon heavy with groups of ottoman cavalry launching counter charges against the Hungarian foot in a desperate attempt to defend their artillery. Seeing the situation stale mated Hunyadi threw in the rest of the Hungarian forces. These well trained mercenaries and veterans quickly over turned the Ottoman resistance and captured their main artillery postitions. Hunyadi had the lighter of these pieces turned around and trained on the Ottoman camp. A full assault with artillery support was then launched on the Ottoman camp. Succesive attacks were beaten back by the Janissaries at the cost of their commander's life and the wounding of the sultan. The Sultan in turn launched his own counter attacks to recapture his guns. After three such attacks were beaten off the Ottoman army refused to try again and remained on the defensive. With night fall the Ottoman army withdrew from their camp and retreated, leaving massive amounts of valuables and equipment behind. The price was high for the Hungarians as within days Janos Hunyadi contracted the plague that was sweeping the camps and died.


I'd recommend Bob Black's pamphlet on Janos Hunyadi and the Turkish invasions of Hungary as an excellent alternative source of information. Though Bob does not list all his sources he seems to have relied on ones different to myself and it makes interesting reading. My one gripe with it, is the inclusion of several standard myths associated with the Hunyadi period, for example the Ringing of Church Bells at noon everyday to commemorate Hunyadi's victory at Belgrade. The ringing of the Bells was actually introduced before the siege of Belgrade by Pope Callistus III as part of the Catholic Angelus prayer. It is linked to the events of 1456 but only in that it was announced as part of the Papal declaration of a Crusade against the Ottoman Turks.
Also the placing of the battle of Vasaq at the 'irongate' on the Danube, it is pretty clear from the available evidence that the chronicler only used the term 'irongate' as a descriptive term and not a specific location.

 

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Copyright 2002 Matthew Haywood

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