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{{Infobox military conflict | conflict = Little War | image = | caption = Habsburg and Ottoman Hungary around 1550 | partof = the Ottoman–Habsburg wars | date = 1530 – c.1552 | place = Kingdom of Hungary | result = Indecisive; John Szapolyai recognized as King of Hungary, Ferdinand I's lands in Hungary guaranteed. | combatant1 =  Holy Roman Empire

  • Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Archduchy of Austria
  • Bohemia Kingdom of Bohemia

Royal Hungary

  • Flag of the Kingdom of Croatia (Habsburg).svg Kingdom of Croatia

Emblem of the Papacy SE.svg Papal States | combatant2 =  Ottoman Empire
Coa Hungary Country History John I of Hungary (Szapolyai) (1526-1540).svg John Szapolyai's Hungarian kingdom
Serbian Despotate
 Kingdom of France[1][2][3] | commander1 = Flag of the Habsburg Monarchy.svg Emperor Ferdinand I]],
[[File:Flag of the Kingdom of Croatia (Habsburg).svg|23px Nikola Jurišić | commander2 = John Szapolyai ,
Suleiman the Magnificent,
Vlad Vintilă de la Slatina; Wallachian voievod,
Petru Rareş
Moldavian voievod | strength1 = Unknown | strength2 = Over 120,000 soldiers[4] | casualties1 = Unknown, heavy | casualties2 = Unknown, heavy }}

The Little War is a name[5] given to a series of conflicts between the Habsburgs and their allies and the Ottoman Empire between 1529 (after the Siege of Vienna) and 1552 (the end of the Siege of Eger). The war saw both sides suffering heavy casualties with the result that campaigning in Hungary would not cease until 1566.

Austrian counter

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Following Suleiman's unsuccessful Siege of Vienna in 1529, Ferdinand I launched a counter-attack in 1530 to regain the initiative and avenge the destruction brought by Suleiman's 120,000 strong army. An assault of Buda was driven off by John Szapolyai, the vassal King of Hungary but Ferdinand was successful elsewhere, capturing Esztergom and other forts along the Danube river, a vital strategic frontier.

Siege of Kőszeg

Suleiman's response came in 1532 when he led a massive army of over 120,000 troops to besiege Vienna again. Ferdinand withdrew his army, leaving only 700 men with no cannons and a few guns to defend Koszeg.[5] The Grand Vizier of the Ottomans, Ibrahim Pasha, did not realize how poorly defended Koszeg was; in fact Constantinople in 1453 stood a better chance. Nonetheless, thanks to brave leadership by Croatian Captain Nikola Jurišić, the city fought off every assault. As a result, the city was offered terms; the garrison was spared in return for the surrender of the city. With the city secured the Ottomans withdrew at the arrival of the August rains.[5]

Peace and War

A peace treaty was signed between Ferdinand and Suleiman. John Szapolyai was recognized as King of Hungary as an Ottoman vassal. However, the Ottomans recognized the land under Habsburg rule in Hungary.[6]

Siege of Osijek

This treaty did not satisfy John Szapolyai or Ferdinand whose armies began to skirmish along the borders. Ferdinand decided to strike a decisive blow in 1537 at John by sending his ablest generals[6] to take Osijek, thereby violating the treaty. The siege was a disaster of similar magnitude to that of Mohács with an Ottoman relief army smashing the Austrians.[6] However, rather than attack Vienna again, Suleiman sent an army of 8,000 light cavalry to attack Otranto in southern Italy the same year. The troops were withdrawn from Italy after an expected French invasion designed to coordinate with Ottoman efforts failed to materialize. Nonetheless, an Ottoman victory at the naval Battle of Preveza in 1538 gave the Habsburg-led coalition another defeat.

A further humiliating defeat was inflicted on the Habsburgs in the Siege of Buda (1541). John Szapolyai had died in 1540 and his son was only a few weeks old.[6] An Austrian attack on Buda followed the news of the death of John, but the appeals of John's widow to Suleiman were not unanswered and in 1541 the elderly General Rogendorf was defeated outside of Buda, before he could even cross the Danube to take it. The next year Ferdinand besieged Pest but was repulsed.

Campaign of Suleiman (1543)

[[File:Cannon battery at the Siege of Esztergom 1543.jpg|thumb|left|Ottoman cannon battery at the Siege of Esztergom, 1543 (detail).]] In April 1543 Suleiman launched another campaign in Hungary, bringing back Bran and other forts so that much of Hungary was under Ottoman control. As part of a Franco-Ottoman alliance (see also: Franco-Hungarian alliance and Petar Keglević), French troops were supplied to the Ottomans in Hungary: a French artillery unit was dispatched in 1543–1544 and attached to the Ottoman Army.[1][2][3] In August 1543, the Ottoman succeeded in the Siege of Esztergom[7] The siege would be followed by the capture of the Hungarian coronation city of Székesfehérvár in September 1543.[8] Other cities that were captured during this campaign are Siklós and Szeged in order to better protect Buda.[7]

A peace agreement lasted between the Habsburgs and the Ottomans until 1552, when Suleiman decided to attack Eger. The assault was futile; the locals of Eger attribute the victory to the constant stream of "bull's blood" (wine) supplied to them by the women. The Habsburg/Hungarian victory at Eger came after a period of great losses in Hungary and the survival of Eger gave the Austrians good reason to believe that Hungary was still a contested ground.


Suleiman made one more attack on Hungary in 1566 believing that a victory there might give him the happiness he needed in his old age. He was far too old to campaign and, although he had died during the Battle of Szigetvár, his campaign was successful in taking much land from the Austrians in Hungary and inflicting many defeats.


  1. 1.0 1.1 The Ottoman Empire and early modern Europe by Daniel Goffman, p.111 [1]
  2. 2.0 2.1 Firearms of the Islamic world, p.38
  3. 3.0 3.1 The Cambridge History of Islam, p.328
  4. Turnbull, Stephen. The Ottoman Empire 1326–1699. New York: Osprey, 2003. pg 50: States that more were deployed than at Vienna in 1529.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Turnbull, Stephen. The Ottoman Empire 1326–1699. New York: Osprey, 2003. pg 51
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Turnbull, Stephen. The Ottoman Empire 1326–1699. New York: Osprey, 2003. pg 52
  7. 7.0 7.1 Ground warfare: an international encyclopedia by Stanley Sandler p.387 [2]
  8. Slovak history: chronology & lexicon Július Bartl p.59


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