I’ve recently become interested in the Battle of Sisak (June 22, 1593), in which a small Austrian army repulsed a much larger Ottoman force, and thus kept the Turks from making further inroads into Central Europe. Among the Turkish troops who died during the battle (by drowning in the river) was Hassan, Pasha of Bosnia, the commander of the Ottoman expedition.
When he translates material for us, our Slovenian correspondent uses as his pseudonym the name of the Slovenian hero Andrej Turjaški (Andreas von Auersperg, Lord of Schönberg und Seisenberg). That name got me interested in the history of the battle, which occurred in what is now Croatia. It is little-known in English (and the wiki is inadequate), yet it seems to be a significant victory over the Ottomans, comparable in its own way to the sieges of Vienna.
While reading this material, it suddenly occurred to me: for all those centuries, the fractious Central Europeans fought bravely to keep the Ottoman Caliphate out of Europe. And now they are simply handing the territory over to the latter-day Ottomans — inviting them in. Anyone among the Austrian political leadership who is over the age of fifty knows very well the history of the sieges of Vienna, Sisak, the Hungarian campaigns, etc. Yet, despite their knowledge, they are surrendering their country anyway. It’s a betrayal of such magnitude that it’s difficult to comprehend.
As Fjordman once said:
The European Union is the principal motor behind the Islamization of Europe. It is formally surrendering an entire continent to Islam while destroying established national cultures, and is prepared to harass those who disagree with this policy.
This is the greatest organized betrayal in Western history.
Dymphna sees this unprecedented high-level treason as a diabolical process. She says that when she was younger she didn’t believe in the diabolical, but she’s changed her mind.
I mentioned the Battle of Sisak to Rembrandt Clancy, and asked him if he knew of any German-language histories of the day’s events. Several days later, much to my surprise and delight, he sent the following translation of a 19th-century account of the battle.
The translator includes the following preliminary notes:
I did not intend a project, but a mere sampling. Having started roughly in the middle of the monograph, at the section on the arquebusiers, it gradually expanded in both directions until I was half way through the work at one end, and had completed the introduction at the other end.
As I made my way through the document, I began more and more to share your interest on this subject, not to mention the language itself.
The feel of the piece is epic, a little Homeric in flavour, with its order of battle, for example, which names the heroes, emphasising their nobility and hinting at lineage, not to mention the establishment of a connection with poetry and song of the epic type singing of ‘arms and the man’. The introduction is unmistakeable in this respect. The ending of the introduction is marked by a horizontal line, also in the original.
Radič’s preliminaries make mention of the capture by the Turks of the strategically located Bihać, which comes under the regional name of Wichitsch in the monograph.
It would be interesting to study the role of Pope Clement VIII in the Long Turkish War, for during that period he apparently sought to build a Holy League against the Turks, following Pius V.
Below is Rembrandt Clancy’s translation of the first half (reckoned without the notes and references) of P. v. Radič’s The Battle of Sissek — Sissek being the 19th-century German spelling of Sisak.
The Battle of Sisak, 1593, by Hans Rudolf Miller
22 June 1593
on the Feast Day of St. Achatius.
P. v. Radič
When a people enter the feast day into the history book to mark a period which is beginning anew, so is it understandable that they are inclined to leaf back through the pages and seek the places wherein bright colours gleam. In the chronicle of our people, it is in such places that red is the most prevalent colour; this brings to their minds the much blood which was shed on our soil, or leastwise that which had been shed by the sons of our Fatherland in the adjoining south-eastern frontier regions throughout the XV and XVI centuries. Whilst recording with delight the fact of the granting of equal status to all the peoples of our great Imperial State, we tarry with pleasure on the numerous places recounting to us of the heroic deeds of our forefathers in the battles with the Turks.
One such conspicuous deed occurred on the 22nd of June 1593 at the fortress Sissek, the battle with the besieging Turks being accepted on the notable counsel of Baron Andreas von Auersperg [Andrej Turjaški] and fought out by virtue of the courage and strength of this same counsellor to the great renown of our Fatherland.
The year 1408 brought the first Turkish bands to Carniolan soil [the Duchy of Carniola, in what is now Slovenia] and indeed into the immediately adjoining Metlika region; in 1418 almost 1,000 Carniolans, under one Lord von Auersperg, made close acquaintance with this uninvited guest in the great battle at Radkersburg. From that time on, with few interruptions throughout all the decades of the XV and XVI centuries, the Ottomans alternated between openly declared campaigns and unpredictable incursions into our country in search of booty.
It was mostly the frontier pashas of Bosnia and Herzegovina, who undertook such expeditions on their own account for the sake of booty, but often to so as to set large ransom amounts by taking prisoner important personages of the Slovenian-Croatian border defence.
In deference to these conditions — and the more so in consideration of the major importance for general history of these battles which arose from the vigorous resistance on the part of our frontier lands — it would certainly be very worth while to draw up a comprehensive portrait of the battles based on a precise examination of the sources.
But to introduce here even the most important and successful “Campaigns against the Turks” would go far beyond the scope of this work.
For this reason I am content, in the interests of the better appreciation of my subject, to be brief in the depiction of Carniola’s situation in those times.
The XV century, which was one filled with the most difficult battles for the lands unified under the sceptre of Friedrich III, had also brought to our country the collective suffering of oppression of one kind or another, disorientation in public and private relations and especially a constant pressure from the Ottomans.
The country sensed deeply within itself the controversies of the Hapsburgs and those with the Celje, the latter of which asserted themselves also on our soil in a bloody way; there was suffering from the general lawlessness of the time, whereby the more powerful nobles of our country worried little about the Kaiser’s court and carried on feuds with one another; the most oppressive, however, was the sensibility to the deficiency in requisite capacity to mount resistance against the archenemy, who incessantly pressed hard against our still poorly-fortified cities and because of the lack of subsidies were able to oppose our constantly inadequate troop strength.
The weak government of Friedrich had come to an end and a new era dawned under his excellent son, the memorable Max (whom a son of our country, Anastasius Grün — Count Anton Alexander von Auersperg — celebrated in song) also under whom our country came into the manifold conditions which determine her welfare.
Then again, soon afterwards there were the peasant uprisings of the years 1515-16, then the stark confrontation between princes and people, which arose from the schism which also gradually penetrated into our southern region; but above all, there was the renewed, systematic coup of the Ottomans, now carried out on a larger scale, the conditions which when taken together destroyed the beautiful illusions of an ordered and felicitous life in the country of Carniola for a long time.
The peasant uprisings combined with the collective consequence of such events, which always militate against the morality of a people, to bring among us yet another social evil: that through the uprisings many a sturdy castle, which perhaps could have held out against the impact of the Turks, was ruined; and many an important noble house, whose help from outside perhaps might have performed the best service for our country, was brought down and even annihilated.
The hostile posture and ferocity between the territorial lords (the princes of Inner Austria) and those under them, mainly the rural people (the nobility) of Carniola, was a result of the evangelical teachings of Luther — which our people also quickly accepted — and was a result of the measures which the country princes implemented against the spread of the same; or what was worse, their merely attempted measures hindered first and foremost a presence which was so urgently necessary in the border regions.
Then it happened, that instead of meeting the common enemy with unified strength, the provincial parliament became extremely tempestuous by virtue of the Archduke-regent’s demand in the name of the Kaiser for the approval for increased taxes and the obligation to do military service [persönlichen Zuzug] and in turn the estates rose up with their demands for concessions in religious affairs. So the pinnacle of one award is determined by the breadth of another, and often the common objective to the detriment of both parties remains out of sight.
However, our country’s accomplishments in matters pertaining to the border were quite considerable all the same. In examining the still-preserved legers, we are astonished at the significant sums of money which we alone spent in the defence of the borders. In addition we still have to reckon on the constant resourcefulness of our knighthood, which knighthood always won the ascendency over Styria and Carinthia, to say nothing of the natural proximity of the theatre of war, the precision of preparedness and of their “movement forward”.
In was in just such a way that we Carniolans offered vigorous resistance to the Ottoman’s methodical expeditions over the last decades of the XVI, notwithstanding the manifold obstacles mentioned, however, and not infrequently on our own initiative; and history places us in the first rank of heroes, Katzianer, Khisl, Lamberg, Lenkovič, Thurn and the Auerspergs; and then again, ahead of many of these manly lineages, there is Herbart VIII (fallen at Budaschki on the 22nd of September 1576) and Andreas von Auersperg, the victor of 22 June 1593.
I cannot close these preliminary remarks better than to invoke here the masterful character, which Anastasius Grün provided in the prologue to his transcription of the folk songs from Carniola.
By virtue of its geographical location, where it is exposed despite the peace agreements to the almost annually recurrent incursions of the pashas on the frontier, the entire country of Carniola was a great encampment throughout the centuries, a castle bristling with artillery and armaments, the entire population ably bearing arms, like the garrison of an immense outpost guard, at any moment ready for the march, battle ready and expectant of the signal (Kreuth-, also Kreuzfeuer), ablaze from every height, which could call the entire country to arms within just a few hours. Every house in those days was a fortification; palaces and even churches were fortified outposts with towers, walls of encirclement and trenches (in Tabor), intended mainly for the reception of the defenceless and for the worthless belongings of those in flight. This epoch to which belongs battles most fierce and tenacious is the flashpoint of the national history, to it belongs all poetic memories, to it the development of a unique warlike folk-life, and therefore also a folk-song that stands apart.
Auersperg delivers his verdict on the folk song itself with the following words:
The close relationship of Carniola folk song to the poetry of other Slavonic peoples notwithstanding, it nevertheless bears the very closest kinship with Serbian folk poetry. If, however, the Serbian folk song, in keeping with the history of the Serbians, permits the sweeping impression of well structured epic in its celebration of patriotic heroes, as proud triumph and victorious song after a war concluded with renown, so too does Carniola’s folk song, likewise in keeping with national history, sound swift and disjointed, as brief romance, as brazen song of arms, as is customary for them to be sung at night at the outpost by warriors on watch, who stay cheerful, shorten the night, but above all do not wish to excessively spin out the thread which can be severed at any moment by moving out or by attack.
After Hassan, Pasha of Bosnia, had ventured a first vain attack on Sissek in 1592, and after he had subsequently finished the building up of Petrinia and had conquered several smaller, but not unimportant border posts, he concentrated his forces again in the region of Petrinia early in 1593 for the purpose of once more attacking Sissek. He had turned beforehand to the commanders in Hungary, — then Turkish territory as is well known — to Ofen, Stuhlwesenburg, Gran, Fünfkirchen and Sigeth, — and received from each commander 30 companies of their cavalry. In total, his army may have amounted to 25,000 to 30,000 men. This impressive power, which moreover was supported by many cannon, had gathered on the 1st of June near Banjaluka and appeared thereafter on the Wednesday before Corpus Christi (16 June) before Sissek. This fortress, the military training of Siscia under the Romans, lies on a promontory at the influx of the Kolpa and Sava rivers and forms the strategic transition point from the far southeast through to Carniola and Croatia. The position belonged at that time to the cathedral chapter of Agram. Its command fell to two priests, Blasius Jurak and Mathias Fintič (the same had already held out in the first siege). These, having foreseen the Pasha’s attack, had shortly before asked Lord Ruprecht von Eggenberg of Agram for help and received such in the form of one hundred German knights, through which newly acquired reinforcements in manpower from the rural population allowed for the expectation of a spirited defence.
Hassan drew up in front of the fortress, undertaking an unrelenting fire on the same; the result of this bombardment was the death of one of the commanders, Mathias Fintič, who met his end when he was hit in the head by a split off piece of iron from the castle gate. Together with him, 12 other defenders were killed by the same cause. The besieged garrison now sent a request for relief to Ban Thomas von Erdödy and Ruprecht von Eggenberg. This was promised to them and to that end they issued the notice everywhere throughout the lands. First the Croatian nobility were called to arms; then Andreas von Auersperg, Colonel of the Croatian border and maritime frontier and General in Karlstadt (which, incidentally, was called a bastion of the Auerspergs), as well as Lieutenant Colonel on the Slovenian border, Lord Alban Grosswein, were urged to make haste “by day and by night.”
On 19 June Ruprecht von Eggenberg put a bridge over the Sava and led the troops which had arrived across it; Auersperg joined up with him in Turopolje.
According to the records received, the total number of Christian fighters numbered close to 4,000. Ordered according to individual brigades we find:
|1.||Lord Andreas von Auersperg, Lord of Schönberg, commanding officer of the Croatian border and maritime frontier, with his bodyguard company [Leibcompagnie] of mounted arquebusiers, 300 men in cuirass with tiger skins, splendid soldiers;|
|2.||Lord Adam von Rauber of Weineck and Kreutberg, captain of cavalry from the Carniolan Estates, led the 200 Carniolan arquebusiers;|
|3.||Christoph von Obrutschan of Altenburg, captain of cavalry from the territory of Carinthia, brought over 100 men;|
|4.||Lord Ruprecht von Eggenberg, Imperial and Royal War Commissar, appeared with 300 men or with three platoons of German foot soldiers;|
|5.||Thomas, Baron von Erdödy, Ban of Croatia, had 1,240 infantry and cavalry;|
|6.||Melchior, Baron von Rödern auf Friedland, Colonel of over 500 mounted Silesian riflemen, splendid soldiers, who contributed much to the victory at Sissek;|
|7.||Lord Alban Grosswein, lieutenant-colonel on the Slovenian [Windisch] border, in command of 400 men, mounted and on foot;|
|8.||Peter, Baron von Erdödy, Captain of the Uskoks, led 500 uskoks and hussars;|
|9.||Stephan Tachy, Baron von Stattenberg, 80 Hussars;|
|10.||Herr Martin Pietschnik zu Altenhof, Captain, 100 men;|
|11.||Lords Georg and Sigmund Paradeiser of Neuhaus, Captains, in command of the Karlstadt, Carinthian and Carniolan Musketeers, 160 men;|
|12.||Ferdinand Weidner, son of a baptised Jew, with a platoon of German knights, 100 men.
In all, according to this catalogue, there were 3,980 men. As a result, Istuanffi’s suggestion of an 8,000 strong Christian army appears very much exaggerated. On 20 June this relief army moved to take on reinforcements and bivouacked at Novigrad. Here they awaited Count Georg Zriny with his bevy of soldiers, but in vain, according to Valvasor, since they were prevented from coming. In the meantime, a council of war was held to discuss whether to proceed with an attack or not. After multifarious debates in which the minimal strength of the army in opposition to the superior strength of the enemy was declared, the Croats in particular voted against the offensive. The decision was made when a messenger arrived with the words: “If Sissek is not liberated today, it is certain to fall tomorrow.” But finally these words from Auersperg: “It is not a matter of numbers; we must ask God for victory.”
Rödern and Eggenberg shared his opinion, and the others offered their formal consent and the attack was decided for the next day, the 22nd of June — the feast day of St. Achatius.
Three days before (on the 19th), only 100 Christians (of Peter Erdödy’s Weiss-Röcklein (Uskoks) and Hussars) had routed 500 Turks who had moved across the Sava in order cut off supplies to the fortress of Sissek, which on the side of the Christian commanders could be taken as a good omen.
On the morning of the 22nd, the Christians moved against the Ottomans. Hassan Pasha came across the Kolpa with infantry led by Memi, Bey of Zwornik. He hid his pike square (Gewalthaufen) in a copse, hoping to entice the Christians toward it so as to be able to encircle them easily.
In his rear he had the river, on his left the Odra, which flows immediately into the Kolpa at that point; and to the right was the bridge which he had crossed to take up his position and which was supposed to maintain and secure contact with his encampment and the army on the farther side of the Kolpa, both of which were concealed by a fortified hill.
Hassan had taken only 18,000 men across, the core of his entire army (he left the rest in the rear), as the figures on our annotated battlefield illustration attest, in agreement with the reports from the Christian and Ottoman sides.
The said deployment of forces had occurred at a distance of one half mile from Sissek.
The Christian army, with its back abutting the palus salutis as can be seen on the illustration, was divided into three main battle lines, from which the first, under Ban Erdödy, was given preference in the attack, as Valvasor remarks, on account of his dignity; Andreas Auersperg led the second and Rödern led the third. Our side was set to begin the battle between 10 and 11 o’clock in the morning.
The Croatians and the Hussars under Erdödy attacked as mentioned earlier, but being unable to hold their position against the enemy, who had positioned 1,000 select horsemen to the forward position, they pulled back to the second battle line led by [Andreas] von Auersperg, the commander of Karlstadt. This latter now ordered his forces to move up quickly; the Croatians charged forcefully, and several captains pressed forward with their regiments, “Carinthians and Croatians, Rödern’s men and the men from Karlstadt, the Grün — and Weissröchlein, and the German infantry” all pressed forward with such fury into the Turkish flanks, as Auersperg himself reports, that Pasha made his way toward the bridge in hope of turning his fleeing troops around again at that point. But he was unable to execute his plan, for the arquebusier commanders, Stephan Graf von Blagay and Lord Jakob von Prank, who in the meantime had moved forward in good order, had already seized the bridge. Hassan, along with his entire pike square, was forced into the River Kolpa.
It is thus that the outcome of this memorable battle is narrated in the reports of the captains. Similarly we find it in the situational maps in the war archives and made visible in the battle illustrations, which accounts, accordingly consistent with the written sources, thoroughly disprove the details of the chroniclers, which Hammer [Joseph von Hammer-Purgstall] also accepted, namely, that “the bridge broke under the fleeing troops and for that reason a large number of them leapt into the water.”
The surface of the water of the Kolpa, which was significantly swollen at the time, was almost covered with men and horses and after three days the river was still washing up corpses. Only 3,000 Turks escaped by flight.
As to prisoners, except for Hassan’s stable master, which one of Tachy’s cavalrymen overtook, and Dauth Spahi … extremely few were taken. Hardly fifty men were lost to the Christians (mostly uskoks).
Among the drowned Turks was Hassan himself, then Mehmed, Pascha of Herzegovina, and the son of the Sultan’s sister, 12 beys and many other commanders of greater or lesser rank.
The body of the first of these was taken completely out of the water and its head chopped off.
A certain Veit Klekowitz — as Valvasor relates — had the chopped off head impaled on a pole und put on display for the troops, in order to avenge the highly prized head of Herr Herbart von Auersperg, upon whose head the cruel Turks had done the same thing.
Auersperg’s letter mentions the rumour that the Pasha’s head and the heads of other eminent Turks were supposed to have been brought to Vienna.
Update: Rembrandt Clancy sends this additional information based on the footnotes to the monograph:
Radič puts the footnote to the name of “Hassan, Pasha of Bosnia”, immediately after the introduction. The note reads as follows:
An indescribably good soldier, but also a fierce tyrant and archenemy of Christendom: like the Mamluks are in general, he being one of them. For he had previously been an Italian Christian and Benedictine monk, but had been seduced by Venus from the cloister, yea even from Christendom to Mohammed. (Johann Weichard Freyherr Valvasor. Ehre des Herzogthums, Krain XV. Buch. Laibach-Nürnberg. 1689, p. 530.)
These sentences are really a direct quotation from Radič’s original 17th century source, Johann Weichard Freyherr Valvasor, which is available to us as you can see from the link. The reference to Venus would have taken on more meaning had Radič just added just one more sentence, for Valvasor continues:
For thereafter he maintained a great number of kept women [Kebsweiber], the majority of them Christian prisoners and of course they were the most beautiful of form. (loc. cit.)