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The Siege of Gvozdansko (Croatian language: Opsada Gvozdanskog ) was a siege of Gvozdansko Castle in the Kingdom of Croatia within Habsburg Monarchy. The battle around Gvozdansko and the siege of the castle lasted from 3 October 1577 to 13 January 1578, between the defending Croatian forces and the invading Ottoman army under the command of Ferhat-paša Sokolović. The battle resulted in an Ottoman victory with heavy losses on the Ottoman side, while all defenders died during the siege.


After the fall of the Kingdom of Bosnia into the Ottoman hands in 1463, the southern and central parts of the Kingdom of Croatia remained unprotected.[1] Decisive Ottoman victory at the Battle of Krbava field in 1493 that shook all Croatia did not dissuade the Croats from making even more decisive and persistent attempts at defending themselves against the attacks of the much more superior enemy. A new wave of Ottoman conquest began in 1521, after which a good portion of Croatia was conquered or pillaged.[1]

On August 29, 1526, at the Battle of Mohács, the Christian forces led by King Louis II were defeated by Ottoman forces led by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent.[2] Louis was killed in the battle which resulted in the end of the independent Kingdom of Hungary, as he died without an heir. Both the Kingdom of Hungary and Kingdom of Croatia became disputed territories with claims from both the Habsburg and Ottoman empires. Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand I who was a brother of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, married the sister of Louis II[3] and was elected King by the nobles of both Hungary and Croatia.[4][Note 1]

The Ottomans attempted to conquer the Gvozdansko Castle on several occasions.[5] The first major attempt was in 1566.[5] The second failed attempt was in 1561, when 8,000 Ottomans under the command of Malkoč-beg attacked the castle.[5] The third attempt was in 1574, when Ferhat-paša Sokolović tryed to capture the castle by treachery.[5] Another attempt in 1576 by Kapidži-pasha also failed.[5][6]


The final siege which was fought from 3 October 1577 to 13 January 1578, was much better prepared.[6] Ferhat-paša Sokolović with 10,000 soldiers organized three major assaults and tried to take Gvozdansko, but was not successful.[6] All of the defending crew of Gvozdansko were tormented by hunger and cold. After days of fierce fighting, the only thirty remaining soldiers held their positions virtually with no ammunition, refusing to surrender.[7] The siege ended with an Ottoman victory on 13 January 1578.[8] When the Ottomans entered the castle gates, they met no resistance.[6] They found all the defending forces already dead of wounds, hunger and cold.[7] The Ottoman Ferhat-paša was so moved by their bravery that they were conceded a Christian burial and the local population freed from taxes.[6][7]


  1. On 1 January 1527, the Croatian nobles at Cetin Castle unanimously elected Ferdinand, Archduke of Austria as their king, and confirmed the succession to him and his heirs. In return for the throne, Archduke Ferdinand, at Parliament on Cetin (Croatian language: Cetinski Sabor ), promised to respect the historic rights, freedoms, laws, and customs the Croats had when united with the Hungarian kingdom and to defend Croatia from Ottoman attacks. (R. W. Seton -Watson:The southern Slav question and the Habsburg Monarchy page 18)



  1. 1.0 1.1 Ágoston and Alan Masters (2009), pp. 163-164
  2. Turnbull (2003), p. 49
  3. Turnbull (2003), pp. 49–51.
  4. Corvisier and Childs (1994), p. 289
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 Deželić (1868), pp. 713-714
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 "Zrinske utvrde u hrvatskom Pounju" (in Croatian) (PDF). Fortresses built by Zrinski family in Croatian pounje region. Zagreb: Croatian Society of Civil Engineers. 2003. pp. 304–307. Retrieved 2011-02-16. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Tkalčić 1861, pp. 126-127
  8. Lopašić 1943, p. 26


Further reading

External links

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