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On this day in history: Battle of Buda (1686)

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The Battle of Buda (1686) was fought between the Holy League and the Ottoman Empire, as part of the follow-up campaign in Hungary after the Battle of Vienna. The Holy League took Buda after a long siege.

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In 1541 Buda was conquered by the Turks in the Siege of Buda, and was under Ottoman rule for the next 145 years. The economic decline of Buda the capital city during the Ottoman conquest characterized by the stagnation of population, the population of Buda was not larger in 1686, than the population of the city two centuries earlier in the 15th century.

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The Ottomans allowed the Hungarian royal place to fall into ruins. The amortized palace was later transformed into a gunpowder storage and magazine by the Ottomans, which caused its detonation during the siege in 1686. The original Christian Hungarian population didn’t feel secure during the Ottoman conquest, their numbers significantly shrank in the next decades, due to their fleeing to the Habsburg ruled Royal Hungary. The number of Jews and Gypsy immigrants became dominant during the Ottoman rule in Buda.

Following the Ottoman defeat at the Battle of Vienna in 1683, Holy Roman Emperor Leopold I saw the opportunity for a counterstrike. After the unsuccessful second siege of Vienna by the Turks in 1683, which started the Great Turkish War, an imperial counteroffensive started for the re-conquest of Hungary, so that the Hungarian capital Buda could be freed from the Ottomans. With the aid of Pope Innocent XI, the Holy League was formed on 5 March 1684, with King Jan Sobieski of Poland, Emperor Leopold I and the Republic of Venice agreeing to an alliance against the Turks. Buda was besieged for 108 days and ended in Ottoman victory.

In 1686, two years after the unsuccessful siege of Buda, a renewed campaign was started to take the city. This time the Holy League’s army was much larger, consisting of 65,000-100,000 men, including German, Hungarian, Croat, Dutch, English, Spanish, Czech, Italian, French, Burgundian, Danish and Swedish soldiers, and other Europeans as volunteers, artillerymen and officers. The Turkish defenders consisted of 7,000 men.

By the middle of June 1686 the siege had begun. On July 27 the Holy League’s army started a large-scale attack, which was repulsed with a loss of 5,000 men. A Turkish relief army arrived at Buda in the middle of August led by Grand Vizier Sarı Süleyman Paşa, but the besieged Ottoman forces, led by commander Abdurrahman Abdi Arnavut Pasha, was unable to mount any offensive and he was shortly afterwards killed in action. Abdi Pasha’s defensive efforts are referred to as “heroic” by Tony Jaques in his book “The Dictionary of Battles and Sieges”.

Prince Eugene of Savoy and his dragoons were not directly involved in entering the city but secured the rear of their army against the Turkish relief army, which could not prevent the city from being entered after 143 years in Turkish possession.

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