Last-minute Turkish victory at Keresztes

October 24th-26th, 1596

This battle on the Hungarian plain near Erlau, where the singularly unwarlike Ottoman sultan Mehmet III achieved a somewhat unexpected victory over a combined Habsburg-Transylvanian force should be seen in the context of the long period of border warfare in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as the Holy Roman Emperors of Habsburg Austria sought to shore up the eastern flank of Christendom and recover Hungarian lands lost to the Turk after the battle of Mohacs (1526).
The Christian forces led by the Habsburg Archduke Maximilian and his ally Sigismund of Transylvania, held the early advantage, with many of Mehmet's troops deserting the battlefield, a course of action that their sultan attempted to emulate. But the Christians, plundering the Turkish camp, over-exposed themselves: a counter-charge by the Ottoman cavalry spelt disaster for them and over 30,000 men were lost by Maximilian together with large amounts of baggage and equipment.

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