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Battle of Buda (1686)

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Battle of Buda (1686)

The Battle of Buda (1686) was fought between the Holy League and the Ottoman Empire, as part of the follow-up campaign in Hungary after the Battle of Vienna. The Holy League took Buda after a long siege.

After the unsuccessful second siege of Vienna by the Turks in 1683, which started the Great Turkish War, an imperial counteroffensive started for the re-conquest of Hungary, so that the Hungarian capital Buda could be freed from the Turks.

Formation of the Holy League

In 1541, Buda was conquered by the Turks in the Siege of Buda, and was under Turkish rule for the next 145 years. Following the Turkish defeat at the Battle of Vienna in 1683, Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I saw the opportunity for a counterstrike. With the aid of Pope Innocent XI, the Holy League was formed on 5 March 1684, with King Sobieski of Poland, Emperor Leopold I, and the Republic of Venice agreeing to an alliance against the Turks.

First siege, 1684

First Siege of Buda, 1684
Part of Great Turkish War

Siege of Buda 1686 by Frans Geffels
Date Spring of 1684
Location Buda, Ottoman Hungary
Result Ottoman victory
the siege lasted 108 days[1]
Ottoman Empire  Holy Roman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Grand Vizier Kara İbrahim Pasha
Abdurrahman Abdi Arnavut
Charles V, Duke of Lorraine
Louis William, Margrave of Baden-Baden
Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg
7,000 inside Buda
17,000 relief forces
Casualties and losses

In the spring of 1684, an army of about 38,000 men marched under Charles V, Duke of Lorraine, to free the city of Buda from the Turks.

After the main army crossed the Danube at Esztergom on 13 June, the front of the imperial army under the command of Maximilian Lorenz von Starhemberg and the cavalry general Louis William, Margrave of Baden-Baden arrived at the castle town of Visegrád on 15 June.

On 16 June, the town of Esztergom was taken by storm by the imperial troops in spite of its strong walls, after a gate was destroyed by cannons. The majority of the Turkish occupation troops were killed and the city was plundered. Only a few Turks managed to withdraw to the castle on the rock above the city. After a siege of one-and-a-half days, the remaining Turkish garrison capitulated on 18 June.

On 27 June, the imperial army met a strong Turkish army of 17,000 men at Vác under the command of the Grand Vizier Kara İbrahim Pasha who would eventually drive out the Habsburgs.[2] Although the Turks had entrenched themselves at a favorable position, Karl V opened the fight with cannon fire. The centre of the imperial troops was led there by Maximilian Lorenz von Starhemberg and after a rather short fight knew that the Turkish troops were defeated. Vác fell to the imperial army the same day.

On 30 June, the imperial main army entered the city of Pest, to which the Turks had set fire shortly before. After the army crossed the Danube at Vác, it began the siege of Buda, which was defended by approximately 10,000 Turks. The imperial army, consisting of 34,000 men, began the bombardment of Buda's fortress with 200 cannons on 14 July 1684, the anniversary of the beginning of the siege of Vienna. Field Marshal Graf Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg was assigned to conduct the siege.

On 19 July, the imperial troops took control of the lower part of the town of Buda. However, since too few troops were available to occupy it, Ernst Rüdiger ordered the houses in that part of the town burnt down.

Drawing of the Siege of Buda in 1684

Throughout July and August, the imperial army made several attempts to attack the fortress, but all were repelled by the Turkish defenders.

At the beginning of September, an imperial general reported that the number of the soldiers fit for service had shrunk from 34,000 to 12,500, and morale was low. On 11 September, an imperial auxiliary corps reached Buda, providing new momentum to the campaign.

On 22 September, a Turkish relief army arrived, and immediately attacked the besieging forces. The imperial army managed to repel them, but was unable to defeat them. The Turkish relief army then engaged the imperial army in repeated nuisance attacks, which, coupled with losses caused by the Turkish city garrison, caused a plunge in morale. Ernst Rüdiger, who was severely wounded and facing sustained criticism from his army, had to be replaced in command of the siege. The final blow was a spell of poor weather conditions throughout October, and the decision was made to withdraw.

On 30 October, the imperial army withdrew after a siege which had lasted 109 days. Several factors had caused the size of the allied force to shrink to about half its original size: battle losses, dysentery and a fever epidemic, poorly dug trenches, and tactical errors in the siege. The captain Paul Joseph Jakob von Starhemberg and the Christian allies after this failed enterprise had to regret losing 23,000 men. Ironically, the blame for the failure was laid with the man who had only led the army at the beginning of the siege: Ernst Ruediger von Starhemberg.

Second siege, 1686

Second Siege of Buda, 1686
Part of Great Turkish War

The Recapture of Buda Castle in 1686 by Gyula Benczúr
Date 1686
Location Buda, Ottoman Hungary
Result Holy League victory, after 78 days of siege
 Holy Roman Empire
Kingdom of Hungary
Ottoman Empire
Commanders and leaders
Charles V, Duke of Lorraine
Louis William, Margrave of Baden-Baden
Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg
Abdurrahman Abdi Arnavut 
Grand Vizier Sarı Süleyman Paşa
Pasha of Temeşvar
Pasha of İstolni Belgrad
Pasha of Osijek
70,000-80,000 Garrison below 7,000 men inside Buda (including 3,000 Janissaries, 1,000 horses, 1,000 Jews and 2,000 inhabitants[3]
Casualties and losses
unknown 3,000 Ottoman troops killed
Executions, Rape, Torture and expulsion of the Muslim population of Buda
Violence and massacre against the Jewish community of Buda by the besiegers[4]
300 Jews and a few hundreds Turks captured[5]
Half of the Jewish community massacred by the imperial troops[6][7] Hundreds of Jews and 6,000 Muslims captured to be sold as slaves or held for ransom[7]
Fireworks in Brussels in commemoration of the recapture of Buda from the Turks in 1686

In 1686, two years after the unsuccessful siege of Buda, a renewed campaign was started to take Buda. This time, the Holy League's army was twice as large, containing between 75,000-80,000 men,[8] including German, Hungarian, Croat, Dutch, English, Spanish, Czech, Italian, Catalan, French, Burgundian, Danish and Swedish soldiers, and other Europeans as volunteers, artillerymen, and officers. The Turkish defenders consisted of 7,000 men.[8]

By the middle of June 1686, the siege had begun. On July 27, the Holy League's army started a large-scale attack which cost them 5.000 killed.[8] They were thrown back by the defenders. A Turkish relief army arrived at Buda in the middle of August led by Grand Vizier Sarı Süleyman Paşa, but the besieged Ottoman forces led by commander Abdurrahman Abdi Arnavut Pasha was unable to mount any offensive and he was soon after killed in action. Abdi Pasha's defensive efforts are referred to as "heroic" by Tony Jaques in his book the Dictionary of Battles and Sieges.[2]

Prince Eugene of Savoy and his dragoons were not directly involved in entering the city, but secured the rear of their army against the Turkish relief army, which could not prevent the city from being entered after 143 years in Turkish possession.

Massacre of Jews and Muslims

After the conquest, the victorious soldiers took out their fury on the hated "heathens". Knowledge of the Turkish threat was firmly embodied in the consciousness of Europe at that time, fueled by tales of Turkish atrocities against civilians and the religious attitudes of the Christian church:

"Buda was taken and abandoned to plundering. The soldiers committed thereby such excesses. Against the Turks, because of their long and persistent resistance, which had cost an amazing quantity of its comrades their lives, they spared neither age nor sex. The Elector of Bavaria and the Duke of Lorraine, disturbed by knowing of men killed, and women raped, gave good orders that the butchery must stop, and the lives of over 2000 Turks were saved."

Over 3,000 Turks were killed in the slaughter perpetrated by imperial troops, and the violence was directed not only against the Muslims, but likewise against the Jewish population of Buda.[4] As subjects of the Ottoman Empire, who enjoyed greater tolerance under the Ottomans compared to the Habsburgs,[3] the Jews had fought side-by-side with the Turks[5] and were considered allies of the Turks.[3] After the conquest of the city, the Jewish community, which at its height had numbered 3,000 persons,[9] of Buda was almost completely destroyed.[3][10] Approximately half of the city's 1,000 Jews were massacred,[7][11] as a "punishment" for their loyalty to the Ottoman Turks, while the other half, several hundred Jews and 6,000 Muslims,[7] were captured to be sold as slaves or held for ransom.[6] The homes and properties of the Jews were looted and destroyed.[6] The Reformation Hungarian Protestants advocated the complete removal of the Jewish population of Hungary.[6] Not only the remaining Jews of Buda,[10] but also most of the Jews of entire Hungary left Buda along with the retreating Turks.[10][12] The captured ones were sent to Vienna, Pozsony or Mikulov.[3] The mosques and minarets of Buda were destroyed and three synagogues were burned, along with numerous valuable books, by the Army of the Holy Roman Empire.[7]

The most bloody events of the battle have been recorded by Johann Dietz of Brandenburg, an army doctor in the besieging army:

"...Not even the babies in their mother's wombs were spared. All were sent to their deaths. I was quite horrified by what was done here. Men were far more cruel to each other than wild beasts (Bestien)."[13]

The imperial troops buried their own dead, and threw the dead bodies of the Turks and Jews into the Danube.[5]


During the Turkish reign, the city of Buda flourished. It became a cultural and commercial center.[8] Some of the churches in the city were rebuilt as mosques rather than being destroyed. Churches, mosques, schools, communal kitchens, bakeries and Turkish baths were built. The cultural treasures of the city were protected and preserved by the Turks during their reign.[8]

As a consequence of the recapture of Buda from the Turks, as well as winning the Battle of Mohács (1687), the Hungarian parliament recognized at Pressburg in November 1687 that the inheritance of the Hungarian crown had passed to the Habsburgs, without the right to object as well as resistance. In addition the Hungarian parliament committed itself to crown the Habsburg successor to the throne still during his father's lifetime as king of Hungary. Thus on 9 December 1687 Joseph, the 9-year-old son of emperor Leopold, was crowned, as a first hereditary king with the Stephanskrone crown. Hungary was a hereditary country of the Habsburgs and already in June 1688 the "commission for the mechanism of the Kingdom of Hungary" was now finally created, in order to create in the country of the Stephanskrone a strong monarchistic government.


  1. ^ A Military History of the Ottomans: From Osman to Atatürk, by Mesut Uyar, Edward J. Erickson, 2009, p.103
  2. ^ a b
  3. ^ a b c d e Urban Societies in East-Central Europe: 1500-1700, by Jaroslav Miller, 2008, p.89
  4. ^ a b Jewish Budapest: Memories, Rites, History, by Kinga Frojimovics, Géza Komoróczy, 1999, p.504-505
  5. ^ a b c The Dutch Intersection: The Jews and the Netherlands in Modern History, by Yosef Kaplan, 2008, p.214
  6. ^ a b c d Masked Ball at the White Cross Café: the failure of Jewish assimilation, by Janet Elizabeth Kerekes, 2005, p.24-25
  7. ^ a b c d e The Holocaust and the Book: Destruction and Preservation, by Jonathan Rose, 2008, p.268-270
  8. ^ a b c d e Ferenc Majoros/Bernd Rill, Das Osmanische Reich 1300 - 1922: Die Geschichte einer Großmacht, Bechtermünz-Verlag, 2002, ISBN 3-8289-0336-3, pg 285-286.
  9. ^ The Myth of the Jewish Race, by Raphael Patai, Jennifer Patai, 1989, p.47
  10. ^ a b c A Travel Guide to Jewish Europe, Ben G. Frank, 2001, p.532
  11. ^ Frommer's Budapest and the Best of Hungary, by Ryan James, 2010, p.174
  12. ^ Christianity and the Holocaust of Hungarian Jewry, by Moshe Y. Herczl, Charles Darwin, 1995, p.4-5
  13. ^ Jewish Budapest: Memories, Rites, History, by Kinga Frojimovics, Géza Komoróczy, 1999, p.505
  • 1. ↑ Ernst Trost, Prinz Eugen von Savoyen. (Wien - München ²1985) S. 47
  • 2. ↑ Trost (²1985)
  • 3. ↑ Trost (²1985), S. 48
  • 4. ↑ Trost (²1985), S. 56
  • 5. ↑ Thomas Winkelbauer, Ständefreiheit und Fürstenmacht. Länder und Untertanen des Hauses Habsburg im konfessionellen Zeitalter Teil 1. In: Herwig Wolfram(Hg.), Österreichische Geschichte 1522 - 1699. (Wien 2004), S. 166
  • 6. ↑ Winkelbauer (2004), S. 168
  • 7. ↑ Winkelbauer (2004), S. 166

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