The Long War: Christians vs. Turks by Land

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  • 0:13 The Ottoman Empire
  • 1:51 Alliances and Locations
  • 3:04 Important Events
  • 4:55 End of the War
  • 5:55 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jessica Elam Miller

Jessica has taught college History and has a Master of Arts in History

The Long War was a battle between the Ottomans and the Habsburg Empire. This lesson covers who fought on each side as well as some of the important events of the conflict.

The Ottoman Empire

Map showing the countries involved in the Long War
The Long War Countries Map

Many people have heard about battles between the Christians and the Turks. Have you ever wondered who the Turks were? The Ottoman Empire is also known as the Turkish Empire and was founded by Turkish tribes around 1299. The Empire expanded and gained a lot of power after it took control of Constantinople in 1453. It continued to rise to power under the leadership of Suleiman the Magnificent.

Fighting in Europe was commonplace by the 16th century. Countries were expanding and fighting for control of new, and sometimes old, land holdings. The Pope battled with the Holy Roman Emperor for control of the Christian nation. In 1096, the first Crusade began in an attempt to gain control of the Holy Land in Jerusalem. Since that time, many Christians fought under the command of the Pope or the Holy Roman Emperor. In the 16th century, the Holy Roman Empire, which included much of the area now known as Germany, was under the control of the Habsburg Monarchy.

The Long War or Fifteen Years' War occurred from about 1591 to around 1606. This was one of the numerous wars between the Habsburg Monarchy and the Ottoman Empire. The war began when the Kingdom of Hungary was defeated by the Ottoman Empire. The groups involved in this war were the countries that made up the Habsburg Monarchy: Transylvania, Wallachia (Romania), Moldavia, and the Ottoman Empire. The Habsburg monarchy included Austria, Hungary, Croatia, and Bohemia. Eventually, Ferrara, Tuscany, Mantua and the papacy also became involved in the war.

Alliances and Location

Rudolf II and the prince of Transylvania signed an alliance treaty in 1595.
Pope Clement VIII Rudolf

After several clashes starting in 1591, the war began in July of 1593. At this time, the Ottoman army launched a military campaign against the Habsburg Monarchy. In 1595, a Christian alliance of European powers was created by Pope Clement VIII against the Turks, and a treaty of alliance was signed in Prague by the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II, and the prince of Transylvania. Later, Aron Voda of Moldavia and Michael the Brave of Walachia joined the alliance.

The Ottoman Empire hoped to seize Vienna. The Habsburg Monarchy wanted to liberate the central territories of the Kingdom of Hungary that were currently being occupied by the Ottoman Empire. Gaining control over areas along the Danube River and the fortresses located there was central to control. The war was mainly fought in Royal Hungary, in what is now western Hungary and southern Slovakia, Transdanubia, and the Ottoman Empire, now known as Bulgaria, Serbia, and southern Romania. Countries fought for control of their land and to prevent the expansion of others into their territories.

Important Events

In the east, Michael the Brave of Wallachia started a campaign against the Turks in 1594. He took control of several castles near the Lower Danube. At the same time, Moldavian allies defeated the Turks in parts of Moldova. Michael sustained his attacks deep within the Ottoman Empire, taking control of several forts and even reaching as far as Adrianople. Eventually, his forces came very close to Constantinople.

Forces under Michael the Brave almost reached Constantinople.
Michael the Brave

The war continued at the Battle of Calugareni in 1595. This event was considered one of the most important battles between the Ottomans and the Wallachians. Although the Wallachians won the battle, Michael's lack of resources forced him to soon flee with his troops and wait for help from Transylvania or Austria. The Battle of Mezokeresztes took place in the territory of Hungary on October 24-26, 1596. This was considered a turning point in the war. The combined Habsburg-Transylvanian forces of approximately 45-50,000 troops was defeated by the Ottoman army after Christians, thinking the battle was over, started looting the Turkish camp.

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