Miklós Zrínyi - Activities in 1664

Activities in 1664

The last year of his life was also a culmination of his efforts and prestige. In 1663, the Turkish army, led by Grand Vizier Köprülü Ahmed, launched an overwhelming offensive against Royal Hungary, ultimately aiming at the siege and occupation of Vienna. The imperial army failed to put up any notable resistance; the Turkish army was eventually stopped by adverse weather conditions. As a preparation for the new Turkish onslaught due next year, German troops were recruited from the Holy Roman Empire and aid was called from France, and Zrínyi, along with the Italian Raimondo Montecuccoli, was named commander-in-chief of the Hungarian army.

As a preparation for campaigns planned for 1664, Zrínyi set out to destroy the strongly fortified Suleiman Bridge (the Osijek (Hungarian: Eszék) bridge) which, since 1566, had linked Darda to Osijek (across the Drava and the marshes of Baranya). Destruction of the bridge would cut off the retreat of the Ottoman Army and make any Turkish reinforcement impossible for several months. Re-capturing strong fortresses (Berzence, Babócsa, the town of Pécs, etc.) on his way, Zrínyi advanced 240 kilometers on enemy territory and destroyed the bridge on 1 February 1664. However, the further pursuance of the campaign was frustrated by the refusal of the Imperial generals to co-operate. The court remained suspicious of Zrínyi all the way, regarding him as a promoter of Hungarian secessionist ideas and accusing him of having disturbed the peace by building his castle, Novi Zrin (Hungarian: Új-Zrínyivár or Zrínyi-Újvár, English: New Zrin or Zrin-Newcastle), erected in 1661 at his own expense, in the theoretically de-militarised zone between the two empires. Zrínyi's siege of Kanizsa, the most important Turkish fortress in Southern Hungary, failed, as the beginning of the siege was seriously delayed by machinations of the overly jealous Montecuccoli, and later the Emperor's military commanders (apart from Hungarian and Croatian leaders), unwilling to combat the Grand Vizier's army hastily coming to the aid of Kanizsa, retreated.

Despite the failed siege, the expedition made his name notorious and praised throughout Europe. According to the 1911 Britannica, "it was said that only the Zrínyis had the secret of conquering the Turks". Emperor Leopold offered him the title of prince, while Pope Alexander VII struck a commemorative medal with the effigy of Zrínyi as a field marshal, the Spanish King Philip IV sent him the Order of the Golden Fleece, and France's King Louis XIV created him a Peer.

After relieving Kanizsa, the Grand Vizier turned against Novi Zrin. The Imperial troops under Raimondo Montecuccoli remained inactive while Zrínyi hastened to relieve the castle, refusing all assistance, with the result that the fortress fell. The Viennese court concentrated all its troops on the Hungarian-Austrian border, sacrificing Novi Zrin to hold back the Turkish army. The Turkish army, ultimately, was stopped in the Battle of Saint Gotthard (1664). The Turkish defeat could have offered an opportunity for Hungary to be liberated from the Turkish yoke. However, the Habsburg court chose not to push its advantage in order to save its strength for the brewing conflict that would come to be known as the War of the Spanish Succession. The infamous Peace of Vasvár was negotiated by Zrínyi's adversary, Montecuccoli. The peace treaty laid down unfavourable terms, not only giving up recent conquests, but also ceding territory to the Turks, and offering a tribute of 200,000 golds to the Sublime Porte - all despite the fact that Austrian-Hungarian troops maintained the upper hand.

Zrínyi rushed to Vienna to protest against the treaty, but his view was ignored; he left the city in disgust, after assuring the Venetian minister, Sagridino, that he was willing at any moment to assist the Republic against the Ottoman Empire with 6,000 men. Zrínyi then returned to Čakovec. It is widely accepted that he, despite being a loyal supporter of the court before, participated in launching the conspiracy which later became to be known as the Wesselényi conspiracy, aimed at the restoration of the independent Kingdom of Croatia and Kingdom of Hungary. However, on November 18, he was killed in a hunting accident in a place called Kuršanec Grove, present-day Gornji Kuršanec near Čakovec, (Hungarian: Zrínyifalva) by a wounded wild boar. (Until this day, legend maintains that he was killed at the order of the Habsburg Court. No conclusive evidence has ever been found to support this claim; however, it remains true that the Habsburgs lost their mightiest adversary with his death.)

Read more about this topic:  Miklós Zrínyi

Famous quotes containing the word activities:

    That is the real pivot of all bourgeois consciousness in all countries: fear and hate of the instinctive, intuitional, procreative body in man or woman. But of course this fear and hate had to take on a righteous appearance, so it became moral, said that the instincts, intuitions and all the activities of the procreative body were evil, and promised a reward for their suppression. That is the great clue to bourgeois psychology: the reward business.
    —D.H. (David Herbert)