Hundred Years' Croatian–Ottoman War

Hundred Years' Croatian–Ottoman War
Part of the Croatian–Ottoman Wars, Ottoman–Hungarian Wars, Ottoman–Habsburg wars and the Ottoman Wars in Europe

Nikola Šubić Zrinski's charge from the fortress of Szigetvár during the Siege of Szigetvár
Date1493 to 1593 (100 years)
LocationMedieval Kingdom of Croatia, Habsburg Kingdom of Croatia
Result Ottoman Empire conquered and subverted large areas of the Croatian Kingdom, their advance was conclusively halted in 1592. The remaining kingdom remained in the hands of the Habsburgs
Until 1526:
Kingdom of Croatia
Kingdom of Hungary
Until 1526:
Ottoman Empire

From 1527:
 Habsburg Monarchy

From 1527:
Ottoman Empire

Commanders and leaders
Croatian Ban,
various Croatian feudal lords
Ottoman Sultan,
Bosnian Beglerbeg

The Hundred Years' Croatian–Ottoman War (Croatian: Stogodišnji hrvatsko-turski rat,[1][2] Stogodišnji rat protiv Turaka,[3][4] Stogodišnji rat s Osmanlijama[5]) is the name for a sequence of conflicts, mostly of relatively low-intensity, ("Small War", Croatian: Mali rat[2]) between the Ottoman Empire and the medieval Kingdom of Croatia (ruled by the Jagiellon and Zápolya dynasties), and the later Habsburg Kingdom of Croatia.

Pope Leo X called Croatia the Antemurale Christianitatis in 1519,[6] given that Croatian soldiers made significant contributions to the struggle against the Turks. The advancement of the Ottoman Empire in Europe was stopped in 1593 on Croatian soil (Battle of Sisak). Nevertheless, the Muslim Ottoman Empire occupied parts of Croatia from the 16th to the end of the 17th century.

Time span

There are several different variations about the exact length of the war. According to one group of historians, the war began with the Battle of Krbava Field in 1493, and ended with the Battle of Sisak in 1593.[7]

According to the other group of historians, the war lasted from the second half of the 15th century and into the entire 16th century.[8]

A third group of historians mark the Peace of Zsitvatorok in 1606 as the end of the war. The war was won by the Ottoman's defeat upon their advance on the Kupa river border, with the remainder of Croatia's territory consisting of only 16,800 km².[9]

In light of the human and territorial loss, and also from the modern Croatian Romanticist point of view, the 15th and 16th centuries were known as the "Two centuries of Croatia in mourning" (Latin: Plorantis Croatiae saecula duo carmine descripta) in the lyric-epic poem of Pavao Ritter Vitezović from 1703.[10]


The battlefields were concentrated in the central-eastern areas of the Kingdom of Croatia, stretching from the eastern border of the pre-Ottoman times to the eastern border of the "reliquiae reliquiarum olim inclyti regni Croatiae" ("remnants of the remnants of the once great kingdom of Croatia").

After the 1493 loss at Krbava, the Ottomans started the occupation of significant forts: Knin and Skradin fell in 1522.[11] The Battle of Mohács happened in 1526. Jajce fell in 1528, Požega in 1536, Klis fell in 1537, Nadin and Vrana in 1538, moving the Croatian-Ottoman border to the line, roughly, Požega-Bihać-Velebit-Zrmanja-Cetina.[11]

By the end of 1540, the Ottoman Empire occupied the Croatian possessions between Skradin and Karin, eliminating them as a buffer zone between the Ottoman and Venetian territory in Dalmatia.[12] By 1573, the remainder of the Dalmatian hinterland, now largely controlled by the Venetian cities, was even further reduced by Ottoman advances.[13]

Kingdom of Croatia (pale brown), Republic of Dubrovnik (yellow), possession of Republic of Venice on Croatian coast (orange), and Ottoman Empire's Pashalik of Bosnia (green) in 1606.

International impact

Although the Croatian Kingdom suffered major defeats in battles, it remained in existence, keeping its identity, religion and culture under the Habsburg Monarchy. In addition, some Croats in the territories lost to the Ottomans remained because the Porte embraced ethnic diversity, many of them eventually converting to Islam throughout the following centuries of Ottoman rule.

The Croatian combat against the Ottomans did not remain unnoticed in the political circles of European states. Copious amounts of information from the war was written in Monumenta Hungariae Historica, Codex diplomaticus partium Regno Hungariae adnexarum from 1903 (over 600 documents).

Type of conflicts

During those 100 years (or 150 years, depending on criteria), the war on the territory of Kingdom of Croatia was overall a series of smaller armed conflicts ("small war") over the long duration of the war (in other words, armies were not always in constant battle.)

The Ottoman tactic consisted of persistent loot and scorching raids whose aim was to intimidate and demoralize the local civil inhabitants, to exhaust the economic opportunities and disable the normal economic life on the frontier areas. On the other side, Croatian and allied Christian forces implemented counterattacks, especially in the first phases of war, when they were still able to apply the counterattacking or the offensive tactics. Despite these destructive tactics, the armies did sometimes clash. Sometimes the local armies intercepted or pursued the raiders in their return from the raid. There was also more intense military actions, such as the Battle of Krbava Field or the Battle of Sisak.

Zones of war peril

The war-endangered areas can be classified in three zones:


  1. (Croatian) Hrvatska znanstvena bibliografija Mirko Valentić: Stogodišnji hrvatsko-turski rat (1493-1593) - Od kraja 15. st. do kraja Prvoga svjetskog rata, Školska knjiga, Zagreb, 2005, ISBN 953-0-60577-3
  2. 1 2 (Croatian) Kraljevina Hrvatska i Kraljevina Ugarska Kratka politicka i kulturna povijest Hrvatske
  3. (Croatian) Filozofski fakultet u Mostaru Kolegij Hrvatska povijest srednjega vijeka]
  4. (Croatian) Deseta gimnazija Ivan Supek, Zagreb Zbirka zadataka za 2. razred
  5. (Croatian) ARHiNET arhivski informacijski sistem
  6. Velikonja, Mitja (2003). Religious Separation and Political Intolerance in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Texas A&M University Press. p. 78. ISBN 978-1-60344-724-9.
  7. (Croatian) Hrvatski studiji Studij povijesti
  8. (Croatian) Mladen Ančić: Hrvatski ulog u Bosni, 2. prosinca 2009.
  9. (Croatian) Milan Kruhek: Granice Hrvatskog Kraljevstva u međunarodnim državnim ugovorima, Povijesni prilozi 10/1991., str.37-39, ISSN 0351-9767
  10. (Croatian) ARHiNET arhivski informacijski sistem Pavao Ritter Vitezović
  11. 1 2 Raukar, Tomislav (October 1990). "Hrvatska na razmeđu XV i XVI. stoljeća". Journal - (in Croatian). Senj, Croatia: City Museum Senj - Senj Museum Society. 10 (1): 10. ISSN 0582-673X. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
  12. Bogumil Hrabak (September 1986). "Turske provale i osvajanja na području današnje severne Dalmacije do sredine XVI. stoleća". Journal - Institute of Croatian History (in Serbian). University of Zagreb, Faculty of Philosophy, Zagreb. 19 (1). ISSN 0353-295X. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
  13. Raukar, Tomislav (November 1977). "Venecija i ekonomski razvoj Dalmacije u XV i XVI stoljeću". Journal - Institute of Croatian History (in Croatian). Zagreb, Croatia: Faculty of Philosophy, Zagreb. 10 (1): 221. ISSN 0353-295X. Retrieved 2012-07-08.
  14. Ivan Jurković (September 2003). "Klasifikacija hrvatskih raseljenika za trajanja osmanske ugroze (od 1463. do 1593.)" [Classification of Displacees Among Croats During the Ottoman Peril (from 1463 till 1593)]. Migracijske i etničke teme (in Croatian). Institute for Migration and Ethnic Studies. 19 (2-3): 147–174. ISSN 1333-2546. Retrieved 5 November 2011.


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