Κυριακή, 18 Νοεμβρίου 2012

The Ottoman Invasions, part 2 (Romania)


Moldavia and its prince, Stephen the Great (1457-1504), were the principalities' last hope of repelling the Ottoman threat. Stephen drew on Moldavia's peasantry to raise a 55,000-man army and repelled the invading forces of Hungary's King Mátyás Corvinus in a daring night attack. Stephen's army invaded Walachia in 1471 and defeated the Turks when they retaliated in 1473 and 1474. After these victories, Stephen implored Pope Sixtus IV to forge a Christian alliance against the Turks. The pope replied with a letter naming Stephen an "Athlete of Christ," but he did not heed Stephen's calls for Christian unity. During the last decades of Stephen's reign, the Turks increased the pressure on Moldavia. They captured key Black Sea ports in 1484 and burned Moldavia's capital, Suceava, in 1485. Stephen rebounded with a victory in 1486 but thereafter confined his efforts to secure Moldavia's independence to the diplomatic arena. Frustrated by vain attempts to unite the West against the Turks, Stephen, on his deathbed, reportedly told his son to submit to the Turks if they offered an honorable suzerainty. Succession struggles weakened Moldavia after his death.
In 1514 greedy nobles and an ill-planned crusade sparked a widespread peasant revolt in Hungary and Transylvania. Well-armed peasants under György Dózsa sacked estates across the country. Despite strength of numbers, however, the peasants were disorganized and suffered a decisive defeat at Timisoara. Dózsa and the other rebel leaders were tortured and executed. After the revolt, the Hungarian nobles enacted laws that condemned the serfs to eternal bondage and increased their work obligations. With the serfs and nobles deeply alienated from each other and jealous magnates challenging the king's power, Hungary was vulnerable to outside aggression. The Ottomans stormed Belgrade in 1521, routed a feeble Hungarian army at Mohács in 1526, and conquered Buda in 1541. They installed a pasha to rule over central Hungary; Transylvania became an autonomous principality under Ottoman suzerainty; and the Habsburgs assumed control over fragments of northern and western Hungary.