Austro-Turkish War (1529–1533)
PRINCIPAL COMBATANTS: Austria vs. Ottoman Turks
PRINCIPAL THEATER(S): Hungary
MAJOR ISSUES AND OBJECTIVES: The Austrians wanted to
recover the portion of Hungary lost to the Ottomans; the
Ottomans wanted to take Vienna.
OUTCOME: Two-thirds of Hungary remained in Ottoman
hands, but the assault on Vienna was twice repulsed.
APPROXIMATE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF MEN UNDER ARMS:
Austrians, 78,000; Ottoman Turks, 200,000
CASUALTIES: Austria, unknown; Ottoman Turks, several
thousand (mostly victims of snowstorms and starvation)
TREATIES: A truce ended the war in 1533.
Ottoman victory in the HUNGARIAN-TURKISH WAR (1521–
1526) gave the Ottoman Turks control of some two-thirds
of Hungary. The Austrians, however, quickly acted against
Ottoman Hungary, forcing John Zápolya (1487–1540),
king of Ottoman Hungary, into Polish exile in 1527.
John called upon the Turks at Constantinople for
help, and Sultan Süleyman I the Magnificent (1496–1566)
swore to march on Vienna and take the city. The sultan
rapidly mobilized some 80,000 to 120,000 men and
invaded Hungary in May 1529. Joining him was the rebellious
Zápolya with 6,000 cavalrymen.
Buda was the first objective, which fell on September
8. The German garrison there was slaughtered. On
September 27 Süleyman’s forces were outside Vienna and
commenced bombardment of the city while Turkish engineers
began undermining the walls. Süleyman did not
count on the tenacity of the defenders, however, who
fought from within the walls and also periodically sortied
into the attackers with great effect. On October 6 some
8,000 Austrians surged out of the city and wreaked havoc
among the Turks, killing 600 before withdrawing within
the city again. The Austrians knew that time was on their
side. The sultan’s army would be hard put to maintain the
siege through winter, and on the night of October 14–15
Süleyman did finally withdraw.
The retreat of the Ottoman Turks was a logistical nightmare.
Poorly supplied, continually harried by Austrian
peasants, freezing, and starving, they plodded homeward.
Thousands perished, and much valuable equipment was
In 1531 Archduke Ferdinand (1503–64) launched a
counteroffensive but was unable to retake Buda. In 1532
Süleyman also regrouped, assembling at Belgrade a vast
invasion force at least 200,000 strong. The Turks were on
the march by June, and they faced an army under Charles V
(1500–58) of only 78,000, but these troops were so skillfully
deployed that Süleyman was effectively held at bay.
Chastened by the experience of his first invasion, the sultan
repeatedly avoided a frontal attack. Instead, from August 9
to 28 the Turks attacked the fortress of Guns, a relatively
minor outpost. Even this siege proved unsuccessful, and, at
last, Süleyman gave up. After withdrawing down the Drava
River, he concluded a truce in 1533. By that time, however,
he had lost control of large numbers of his troops, who continued
indiscriminate and highly destructive raids, triggering
the AUSTRO-TURKISHWAR (1537–1547).
Further reading: Rhoads Murphey, Ottoman Warfare:
1500–1700 (New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University
Press, 1999); V. J. Parry and M. J. Kitch, Hapsburg and
Ottoman Empires (London: Sussex Publications, 1982).