The Battle of Belgrade

  • Wars And Conflict
  • 3 mins

By Crusader1307

This magnificent engagement was fought from July 4-22, 1456. Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II and an army of some 100,000 decided to move against the Kingdom of Hungary. His primary objective was to take the capital of Belgrade. It's main fortification, Belgrade Castle - was probably one of the best constructed fortifications in Hungary. Aware of Mehmed's intentions, Transylvanian Voivode John Hunyadi, began to ready the defenses of the City with his small army. He knew that his army may be no match against Mehmed's  elite troops - the Janissaries and The Anatolians. Hunyadi's close friend - Franciscan Friar John of Capistrano, began to preach "holy war" against the Ottoman Turks. He was able to stir and raise a sizable peasant army. Poorly disciplined and armed (scythes and slings), what they lacked in military training they more than made up for in "martial spirit". Hunyadi now had a standing army of 64,000. Mehmed's forces first arrived by water, establishing floating batteries of cannon. They began to bombard both the castle and City. Soon land forces in the form of 3 divisions moved landward. Batteries were placed and more bombardments started.


The City and castle were under extreme duress! Some 300 cannon were said to have been engaged. On July 14, Hunyadi's own small naval force got lucky. The Ottoman's probably thought the Hungarians had no navy. Surprisingly, Hunyadi's naval forces broke the Turkish blockade. Much needed supplies went to the castle and city. The Ottoman forces, not to be outdone, began a massive assault on July 21. Arrows, rocks, shot and shell - carnage and chaos. Hundreds on both side fell in the melee. The Turks were able to breach the outer perimeter wall. Wasting no time, they proceeded to exploit the breach.  In a last ditch effort, Hunyadi ordered anything that could be burned be thrown over the secondary wall (between them and the Ottomans). Debris was thrown pell-mell. At last, the debris now set on fire, created a massive wall of fire (kept well fed) - between the Hungarians and the Turks. It worked. The Turks withdrew.


Now encamped outside of the city, the Ottomans were being constantly harassed by the peasant army. Rocks, insults anything that could be done to keep the Turks off-guard was done. So aflame with courage, the peasant army actually started to advance on the Ottoman position. Hunyadi, seeing this, rallied his forces and moved onto the Ottoman rear position. Both Hungarian forces attacked at once. Unsure just which way to attack, the Turks faltered. In fact, Mehmed personally engaged in hand to hand combat, only to be shot through the thigh with an arrow. Badly wounded, his forces faltering - he withdrew from the siege, retreating back to Constantinople. The Hungarians had a victory. The Turkish advance would stay away from Hungarian territory for the next 50 years. A great victory, it would be short lived for Voivode Hunyadi. 3 weeks after the siege a plague would fall upon the City. He would contract it and die. Fortunately for his son -soon to be King Matthias Corvinus, Hungary will rise to be an even greater more powerful nation.