Battle of Mensignac, 25 October 1568

Battle of Mensignac, 25 October 1568

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Battle of Mensignac, 25 October 1568

The battle of Mensignac (25 October 1568) was a minor Catholic victory early in the Third War of Religion notable for the death of the Huguenot leader Paul de Mouvans.

The war had been triggered by a Royal attempt to seize the main Huguenot leaders, Condé and Coligny, at Noyers in Burgundy. This failed, and the two leaders escaped across France to La Rochelle. As they went they sent out messengers called their fellow Huguenots to arms. In Dauphine, Provence and Langedoc in the south-east of France a force of 25,000 men was soon in the field. The troops from Dauphine and Provnce crossed the Rhone, and joined the army commanded by Jacques de Crussol, Baron d'Acier, at Alès (to the north of Montpelier).

This combined army then began to move north-west, to unite with Condé at La Rochelle. By late October the Huguenot force had captured Angoulême, and was preparing to attack Pons. The army was rather badly scattered, with its detachments close enough to communication but not close enough to easily support each other. The Royal commander in the area, the Duke of Montpensier, attempted to take advantage of this and sent Brissac to attack Paul de Mouvans' detachment in its quarters at Mensignac (west of Perigueux).

This attack was repulsed. D'Acier had ordered Montbrun not to risk a pursuit until the main force arrived, but Montbrun ignored this advice. His small force ran straight into a Royal ambush in which Montbrun and around 1,000 of his men were killed.

Montpensier was not strong enough to take advantage of his victory, and d'Acier was able to contine towards La Rochelle, joining up with Condé at Aubeterre on the River Dronne (not far to the west of the battlefield) on 1 November.

Why did the Aztecs lose the battle of Otumba?

The most basic and common explanation is that the outnumbered Spanish led a cavalry charge against the leader of the Aztec forces, killing him and throwing those forces into disarray. While this explanation is basically correct, it's not exactly satisfying, so let's go deeper.

Why Are We Here?

The Battle of Otumba 1 was actually a follow-up to La Noche Triste, which itself was precipitated by the Toxcatl Massacre, which may not have even happened had Panfilo Narvaez not shown up. Narvaez had been sent by the Governor of Cuba -- a political rival of Cortes -- to haul Cortes back to Cuba for violating the charter for his original mission to the mainland, which had been to rescue some previously stranded Spaniards and maybe do a bit of light trading with the locals. At this point (Spring 1520), Cortes had completed his rescue mission almost a year ago and had done more than a little trading. One of the rescued Spanish, by the way, was Geronimo Aguilar, who had spent so much time among the Maya who had captured him that he had gone native enough that, when offered European foods, he ate only a little since “after so much time he was accustomed to the food of the Indians, and his stomach would regard Christian food as foreign.” 2 Also, he learned Mayan, which came in handy when Cortes was later gifted a slave who could speak both Mayan and Nahuatl, La Malinche, thus setting off the crazy game of telephone that was the Spanish Conquest and its various chronicles. But I digress.

Cortes, who had until that point been safely ensconced in Tenochtitlan extorting wealth via the Tlatoani Motecuhzoma Xocoyotl, rushed with a body of troops to the Gulf Coast to meet Narvaez. Although he quickly bested Narvaez and convinced most of the troops sent to arrest him to instead join him, the man he had left in charge back in Tenochtitlan, Pedro de Alvarado, had already committed a major faux pas. During Toxcatl, one of the most major religious festivals of the Aztecs, Alvarado launched a full on attack on the unarmed crowd, or, as Diaz del Castillo puts it, "he had, without any provocation, sallied out with the whole of his troops, and fallen unawares upon their chiefs and caziques while they were celebrating a feast in honour of their gods Huitzilopochtli and Tezcatlipuca, Alvarado himself having previously given his consent to the celebration of that feast. Many of their chief personages had been killed and wounded. "

The Toxcatl Massacre not only resulted in the deaths of many elite and experienced political, religious, and military leaders (one in the same, amongst the Aztecs), but finally turned the city of Tenochtitlan against the Spanish. Cortes returned to find his troops besieged within their palace quarters.

Seeking to defuse the situation, Cortes convinced Motecuhzoma to publicly address the besieging forces. Monty was, at that point, already a lame duck, the elites of Tenochtitlan having already elected (or were planning to elect, the timeline is a little fuzzy) a new tlatoani, Cuitlahuac. According to the Spanish sources, Motecuhzoma was struck with sling stones and arrows, dying shortly afterwards. According to native sources, the Spanish, seeing he was no longer in charge, murdered him.

Still besieged, Cortes decided to sneak out of Tenochtitlan at night. The plan was to flee back to their allies in Tlaxcala. Understandably though, creeping over 1000 Spanish Conquistadors, with horses, and several thousand Tlaxcalan infantry out of one of the world's largest cities and across exposed causeways was perhaps less than an ideal plan. The "Night of Sorrows" that followed saw thousands of Tlaxcalans and hundreds of Spanish killed, some of the Spanish drowning in the lake, weighed down by their armor and the riches they were trying to smuggle out. The Spanish were then harassed along their escape route. To quote Diaz del Castillo again:

For memory's sake, I must here note down that we marched into Mexico on the 24th of June, 1520, to Alvarado's assistance, with an army of nearly 1400 men, among which there were seventy-nine horse, eighty crossbow-men, and a like number of musketeers, with above 2000 Tlascallan troops, and a fine park of artillery. On the 10th of July following we commenced our retreat, and on the 14th we fought the battle of Otumpan. I must now likewise recount the loss we sustained in that time. In five days, including the battle of Otumpan, we lost in killed, and those who were taken prisoners, above 870 of our troops, and above 1200 Tlascallans to which must be added 72 men and five Spanish females, all of Narvaez's division, whom the Mexicans put to death in Tustepec.

That quote brings us to the next big question:

How Many Soldiers Were Actually There?

One core problem with the Battle of Otumba is that numbers for either side are not so much fuzzy as opaque. Diaz del Castillo's enumeration of the Spanish troops is probably close to correct. Notice the conditionals regarding the Tlaxcalan numbers though. In both troops numbers and casualties there are "above" 2000 and 1200, respectively. That a number is mentioned at all is somewhat remarkable, given the tendency for both Diaz del Castillo and Cortes to -- when they even acknowledge the presence of the native allies -- to speak of their numbers in such vague terms that they might as well be saying "we had alot of allies."

Clavigero, writing in the 18th Century 3 and synthesizing accounts known at that time, posited that there may have been 7000 or so Tlaxcalans with Cortes in Tenochtitlan, and slightly less than half that number at Otumba. Regardless, it is generally accepted that there were several hundred Spanish, a few dozen mounted, along with a few thousand Tlaxcalans. This does not take into account any support they may have picked up along the way from the rebellious towns who were supplying them as retreated from Tenochtitlan.

For the Aztec numbers, there is even less information. Clavigero has a comment on the incredibly high Aztec troop numbers who were purportedly gathered for the battle, noting that “Some historians make this army consist of 200K men, a number computed solely by the eye, and probably increased by [Spanish/Tlaxcalan] fears.” The truth of the matter is that we don't actually know how many Aztec troops were at Otumba, or even if it was a properly an "Aztec" army (i.e., one composed not just of Mexica, but also soldiera from the other two members of the Aztec Triple Alliance: the Tepanecs and Acolhua). Duran 4, for instance, suggests that the Mexica's allies received the order to raise their armies, but recieved word of the defeat at Otumba "just when they were about to leave for the battle," which is awfully convenient. There's another theory about the Acolhua that we'll touch in a bit. The one point of agreement is that the Spanish and Tlaxcalans were unmistakably outnumbered

Hassig 5 ,however, militates against the larger estimates of native troops opposing the combined Tlaxcalan-Spanish forces. He notes that mustering the truly massive Aztec armies took time, as the troops had to congregate from the various polities throughout the Valley of Mexico. Further, this was all taking place in late June/early July -- the height of the agricultural season. Manpower reserves thus would have been limited due to the large numbers of men required for a different sort of field work. Finally, he points out that the political turmoil inherent with the ascension of new tlatoani meant previous allies might be reluctant to leap to aid (as suggested by Duran) and Cuitlahuac might have opted to remain in Tenochtitlan to bolster his political position before heading out on campaign. Indeed, multiple sources report that is just what he did.

With Cuitlahuac back in Tenochtitlan, who then was leading the Mexica troops? Camargo 6 only says they were led by "Cihuacatzin, which is not a name. The "-tzin" suffix indicates nobility and the Cihuacoatl is the head priest and a kind of prime minister. Digging deeper finds references to a "Matlatzincatl" who is recorded as a son of previous tlatoani Axayacatl and a brother to Cuitlahuac 7 but is not otherwise mentioned. So there was an indeterminate number of Mexica troops led by a brother of the new ruler holding a position which had been primarily focused on religious and domestic matter (at least since Tlacaelel was young). Recall now that the main victims of the Toxcatl Massacre were the elites of Mexica society.

1 This is the Hispanizied version of the town of Otumpan/Otompan [o/u are somewhat interchangeable in Nahuatl, particular given differences between a Tenochtitlan and Texcoco accent]. I'm sticking with the Spanish version to stay in line with your question.

2 Earle R. 2010 "Diets and Bodies in Early Colonial Spanish America" American Historical Review

3 Clavigero 1807 Cullen trans. [1780] The History of Mexico, Vol. 2 .

4 Duran 1994 Heyden trans. [1581] History of the Indies of New Spain .

5 Hassig 1988 Aztec Warfare: Imperial Expansion and Political Control .

6 Camargo 1892 Chavero anotado. [

1585] Historia de Tlaxcala .

7 Chimalpahin 1997 Anderson & Schroeder trans. [1621] Codex Chimalpahin, Vol. 1

What Happened?

The forces thus arrayed in their vague, indeterminate forms, the battle was met. Unfortunately, the contemporary sources are not exactly forthcoming as to the details. Leaving off some setup about the previous day’s march, here is the entirety Cortes 8 has to say about the battle:

we encountered so great a multitude of Indians that they completely covered the ground in front and rear, and on our flanks, not leaving a single spot unoccupied. They attacked us with such violence on all sides, that they became mingled with our own people, and it was difficult for us to distinguish them from our allies. We thought it certain that our last day was come, so great was the force of the enemy and so feeble our own, exhausted as we were by fatigue, and reduced by hunger, and nearly all of us suffering from wounds. But it pleased the Lord to show his great power and mercy towards us, so that we were enabled to humble the pride and arrogance of our enemies, great numbers of whom perished, including some of their most distinguished men and principal leaders for the multitude of them was so great that they were in each other's way, and unable either to fight or to fly. We were engaged during the greater part of the day, until it pleased God that one should fall who must have been a leading personage amongst them, as at his death the battle ceased.

Diaz del Castillo 9 gives, as expected, a more detailed and colorful account, noting that “orders were given how the horseman were to charge and return at a hard gallop, and were not to stop to spear the enemy but to keep their lances aimed at their faces until they broke up their squadrons.” Meanwhile the infantry squared up in a defensive formation.

Perhaps now is a good time to mention that this was the first time the Mexica had really fought cavalry. Certainly, horsemen had been used in the cramped streets of Tenochtitlan during La Noche Triste, but this was the first time when an Aztec force had gone up against cavalry in open battle. Also, that Diaz del Castillo specifically notes the even, level terrain specifically favored cavalry.

On the other hand, the Spanish at that point had an abundance of experience fighting against the tactics of Mesoamerica at the time, having fought on the Gulf Coast and skirmished with the Tlaxcalans as they moved inland. The Tlaxcalans themselves had been thrown off balance by the appearance of mounted warriors, since until that moment in history, nothing like them had existed in Mesoamerica. The complete absence of any sort of mount in the Americas meant there was never any need to develop infantry tactics, such as massed pikes/spears, to counteract a cavalry charge. Nor did they need to take into account terrain that might favor mounted charges. Instead, looser formations were used and when an enemy was as outnumbered as the Spanish and Tlaxcalans were, the common tactic was simply to extend your lines and envelop them. This is exactly what the Mexica did at Otumba and it was a disaster.

Cortes gave instructions that “those who were in the thick of the enemy” (i.e., the charging cavalry) were to target the leaders and “officers” of the Mexica, who were distinguished not only by the fine weapons and armor, but also by their distinctive backbanners which served both as rallying points and, in this case, targets. Matlatzincatl himself was located atop a small hill, surrounded by other leaders of the army and (as Diaz del Castillo tells it):

When Cortes saw [Matlatzincatl] with many other Mexican Chieftains all wearing great plumes, he said to our Captains: Now Señores, let us break through them and leave none of them unwounded” … and the horsemen charged, and Cortes struck his horse against the Mexican Captain, which made him drop his banner [note: larger, handheld banners were used for those officials who were not supposed to be on the front lines], and the rest of our Captains succeded in breaking through the squadron which consisted of many Indians following the Captain who carried the banner, who nevertheless had not fallen at the shock that Cortes had given him, and it was Juan de Salamanca… who gave him a lance thrust

The Mexica, their frontline leaders/rallying points having already been greatly reduced, now had the head of the army cut off in a single cavalry charge. They were thrown into complete confusion and began a disorganized retreat, which is of course something an opposing force -- particularly one with a cavalry advantage -- enjoys. Again, hard numbers of how many died are either nonexistent or mostly speculative. The Spanish and Tlaxcalans certainly limped back to safety, with hundreds of the former dead and the latter nearly wiped out, but the Mexica took the worst of it. Clavigero repeats a citation of 20,000 Mexica casualties, but eyes it with the same skepticism he gave to the figure of 200,000 troops. None of the primary sources -- Spanish and Nahuatl -- actually cite numbers, but they all agree it was a convincing defeat.

Reading the primary sources, Otumba actually doesn’t get much attention. It’s recognized (sometimes) as a significant battle, but not some crucial turning point. And maybe it wasn’t, really. Cuitlahuac continued to solidify his position, deposing and executing the recalcitrant tlatoani of the Acolhua at Texcoco and installing someone who he thought would be more tractable (they were not). The Mexica gradually adjusted their tactics to compensate for cavalry charges, just as they had for guns, artillery, and (later) brigantines. A new Cihuacoatl was appointed, a new army raised, and the war dragged on for another year.

That the war continued may be the most significant result of the Battle of Otumba. Later historians look at it as a key chance for the Spanish to be soundly defeated and Aztec (i.e., Mexica) dominance re-affirmed. But all students of history have to acknowledge the past is maddeningly nuanced and Escher-like in its linearity. If the Mexica had triumphed at Otumba, it would not have stopped the smallpox epidemic already spreading, having been introduced by an African slave who came with Narvaez’s troops. Thus, Cuitlahuac might still have died a few months later, throwing the Aztecs once again into political chaos. Also, would the defeat of Cortes mean the Spanish would abandon the Mainland, having now learned of its enormous wealth? Would the Tlaxcalans have actually laid down arms, now that they had a taste of being on the offensive for once? Would the Tlaxcalans have united behind prince Xicotencatl Xocoyotl in accepted Cuitlahuac’s offer of an alliance against the Spanish, instead of imprisoning him? Would the Acolhua have stopped their growing resistance to Mexica domination or would they have restarted the civil war that had only ended a few years prior to the Spanish arrival? These are all factors going on in the background of the drama of Otumba.

What we do know is that Otumba allowed the Spanish and Tlaxcalans to regroup, rearm, and redeploy. There are a multitude of factors that go into any military victory, but in this case, most of them come down to the fact that the Mexica were fighting an enemy completely foreign to their military and cultural history. I am, of course, talking about horses.

Targeting elites in battle was nothing new to the Aztecs those backbanners were as much a call to arms for the opposing force as they were to allies. It also seems odd to single out the Aztecs elite troops for being unduly flashy when Cortes and his Captains were perched on horses towering about the battlefield even as they charged into ranks of troops. The idea that the Spanish armor and weapons gave them some sort of inevitable victory is also not supported here (or in the actual accounts by the Conquistadors). The Spanish, by their own account, suffered enormous casualties during Otumba. Moreoever, they had lost all their artillery and most of their crossbows and powder during the flight from Tenochtitlan. No, the decisive factor at Otumba was the alien element of cavalry manouvers. It allowed the Spanish to strike at opposing captains with impunity, to break the Aztec ranks, and ultimately to strike down the leadership of the army. All because nothing in the long and glorious military history of the Aztecs had prepared them to deal with a charge by strange hairy, smelly, and grunting creatures riding one of the most significant force multipliers humanity has ever known.

8 Cortes 1843 Folsom trans. [1520] Second Letter of Hernando Cortés to Charles V.

9 Diaz del Castillo 1908 Maudsley trans. [1568] True History of the Conquest of New Spain.

Battle for Chitor: Storming the Last Hindu Fortress in 1567

The walls had been breached. The Mogul forces were closing in on the gallant Rajput defenders inside Chitor Garh, the fort of Chitor. Suddenly, flames were seen rising up in the air from three places inside the fort. The courtiers of Akbar the Great, the Mogul emperor, gave various explanations for the fires. Then Raja Bhagwant Das, a Rajput leader who had allied himself with the Moguls, said that the fires could only mean one thing. The johar–the Rajput custom of burning their women to death in the face of impending defeat–had been performed. Now the Rajput warriors sallied forth to meet the invaders in a desperate last stand with their traditional cry of ‘death for all before dishonor.

It was Tuesday, February 23, 1568. For more than four months, the Mogul army had undertaken a costly and grueling siege of the fort, directed personally by their commander in chief and emperor, Akbar. Now the campaign had reached its apocalyptic climax.

Abu-al-Fath Jalal-ud-Din Muhammad Akbar was born on October 15, 1542. His grandfather and the first of the Mogul emperors, Babur, was a Chaghatai Turk who came from an area in what is now Uzbekistan in Central Asia–and was a descendent of the Mongol conquerors Genghis Khan and Tamerlane. Akbar became emperor at the age of 14 upon the death of his father, Humayun, in 1556. In his nearly 50 years on the throne (1556­1605), Akbar proved to be a tolerant statesman, a shrewd administrator and an avid patron of the arts. He was also a strong-willed individual and a brilliant military commander whose courage and determination enabled him to become master of a vast empire that covered almost two-thirds of the Indian subcontinent. One of the greatest testaments to Akbar’s military and political skills was his subjugation of the martial Rajput kingdoms.

The domain of Rajputana or Land of the Rajputs (in what is now the desert state of Rajasthan) occupied the northwestern portion of India and had presented special difficulties for preceding Muslim rulers, as well as the Moguls. The hostile Rajput kingdoms lay across the routes that ran south from the principal Muslim centers of Delhi and Agra and were uncomfortably close to Dehli and Agra themselves. Mogul rulers also feared that the independent Rajput kingdoms could provide a safe haven for rebels plotting against them. Furthermore, Rajputana bordered on Gujarat, an important center of commerce with western Asia and Europe. To Akbar and the Moguls, therefore, there were potentially huge political and economic advantages to be gained by securing Rajputana.

The Rajputs (sons of kings) had begun to settle in northern and northwestern India after the breakup of the mighty Gupta empire in the late 5th century. They were probably descendants of Central Asian invaders who had contributed to the fall of the Gupta dynasty. Others believe that the Rajputs were the descendants of the kshatriyas (warrior caste, the second tier of the Hindu caste system), who had lived during the Vedic period between 1500 and 500 bc, when an Indo-European people from Iran, called the Aryans, settled in India.

The Rajputs were governed by a chivalric warrior’s code not unlike that of the knights of medieval Europe. It emphasized compassion for defeated foes, generosity toward the helpless, fair play in battle, respect for women, and conduct of warfare by elegant forms and ceremonies. The Rajputs were renowned for their courage on the battlefield.

Their proud martial tradition and passion for war enabled the Rajputs to become the dominant power in northern India by the 9th century, but internecine conflicts led to the emergence of numerous petty kingdoms within their own domain. From time to time, the Rajputs would form confederacies to repel the Turko-Afghan armies that invaded India from the 8th century onward. Such unity tended to be only temporary, however, and their internal discord would ultimately prove to be their undoing.

The victory of Turkish forces from Afghanistan under Muhammad of Ghur over the Rajputs in the second battle of Tarain in 1192 firmly established a Muslim presence in northern India. Nevertheless, the Rajputs maintained their independence in Rajputana and remained a power to be reckoned with in northern India until the arrival of the Moguls in the 16th century.

Akbar fully realized that the Rajputs were tenacious opponents, so he adopted a shrewd policy that combined both military action and diplomacy. For instance, he married Hindu princesses and arranged similar marriages for his heirs. After he defeated a Rajput chieftain, Akbar would make him an ally rather than depose him. As long as they acknowledged Akbar’s suzerainty, paid tribute and supplied troops when required, the Rajput rulers were allowed to retain their territories. That policy of conciliation and compromise won a number of Rajput kingdoms over to Akbar’s side and further weakened whatever remained of Rajput unity. Even as they watched their brothers surrender their independence, however, the Sesodia Rajputs of Mewar refused to bow to Mogul authority.

The Sesodian clan was considered the most powerful and recalcitrant of the Rajputs, carrying the banner of Rajput independence and zealously opposing the Muslim invaders. The Rana of Mewar (rana was a royal title, and rani was the female equivalent) was recognized as the foremost among the 36 royal tribes of the Rajputs. The formidable fortresses of Chitor and Ranthambhor, both in Mewar, were regarded as bastions of Rajput sovereignty and strength.

Mewar, however, had the misfortune of being ruled in 1567 by a weak and incompetent ruler, Rana Udai Singh II. Udai Singh’s defiance was one of the main reasons that Akbar marched against the Sesodias. Akbar also realized that without establishing his suzerainty over the dominion of the Sesodias, he could not hope to be the master of northern India. He was determined to capture the fort of Chitor in particular, thereby setting an example so that no other fortress would dare to resist his army in future.

On October 20, 1567, Akbar arrived at the outskirts of Chitor Garh and pitched camp. A ferocious thunderstorm greeted the Mogul army, as if to serve as an ominous warning against their undertaking. When the storm calmed and the sky cleared, the fortress of Chitor became visible in the distance.

Chitor was the capital of Mewar and had served as the stronghold of the Sesodias since 728. Chitor was formerly called Chitrakut after Chitrang, a Rajput chieftain. Located in present central Rajasthan in northern India, 111 kilometers from Udaipur, Chitor Garh (garh means fort) is the finest medieval Hindu fortification to survive in any state of completeness.

Chitor was situated on a steep, isolated mass of rock that rose some 558 feet from the plain, and was 31Ž4 miles long and 1,200 yards wide in the center. On the summit of the rock stood Chitor Garh. The principal approach to the fortress was from the southeast angle of the present-day location of the lower town (the town was built at the foot of the escarpment after the Sesodias abandoned the fort in 1568) by a steep road that ran for nearly a mile, then made two zigzag bends that were defended by seven massive gates. The summit of the rock, which sloped inward on all sides, collected rainwater that filled several tanks, ensuring an abundant water supply that added to the fort’s capacity to withstand a protracted siege. Unlike most forts in Rajputana, which only enclosed the residence of the clan’s ruler, Chitor Garh held a veritable city within its walls: magnificent palaces, temples, houses and markets. Some of the remains of Chitor Garh can still be seen today.

A 9th-century Hindu chronicle, the Khoman Rasa, described Chitor Garh as the chief amongst eighty-four castles, renowned for strength…it is within the grasp of no foe. Formidable as it was, Chitor had, in fact, been sacked twice before by Muslim forces. It was first taken in 1303 by the Delhi Sultan Alauddin Khalji and was sacked again in 1535 by Bahadur Shah, the sultan of Gujarat. On both occasions, the johar or ritual death by immolation was performed when defeat seemed imminent, after which the Rajput warriors, having taken a vow of death, staged a desperate final charge. Ironically, it was Akbar’s father, Humayun, who intervened and restored the Sesodias after the second sack. That enabled Udai Singh to become rana in 1541.

When he got wind of the Mogul army’s approach, Udai Singh fled to the relative safety of the distant hills, after using scorched-earth tactics to devastate the countryside. When Akbar was informed of the rana‘s flight, he considered pursuing him but decided against it because of the distance involved and the inhospitable terrain.

The rana left the fort in command of two teenage Rajput princes, Jaimal and Patta, ages 15 and 16 respectively. Chitor was defended by a garrison of 8,000 warriors, supported by 40,000 peasants. Several other Rajput clans and their chiefs were also at the fort during this time. The garrison was evidently prepared for a long siege, since it had a well-stocked supply of ammunition, grain and other provisions. And the fort had plenty of firepower, including archers, a corps of crack musketeers and a number of artillery pieces.

When Akbar arrived at the summit of Chitor hill on October 21, 1567, he pitched his camp, which extended 10 miles to the northeast of the hill. The site of the camp was marked by a 30-foot limestone pyramidal column, or tower, known as Akbar’s lamp, which served as a beacon to stragglers at night and denoted the imperial headquarters (such markers were a regular feature of Mogul camps of significant size).

The Mogul army included some 3,000 to 4,000 horsemen and 300 war elephants. The soldiers were armed with swords, lances, matchlocks, and bows and arrows. In addition, there were about 5,000 builders, carpenters, stonemasons, sappers and smiths to construct siege engines and to mine the fort’s walls.

Accompanied by his courtiers and surveyors, Akbar made a reconnaissance of his target and ordered batteries to be set up at various strategic points around the fort. It took about a month for the whole circumference of the fort to be invested.

There were three principal batteries, one of which was Akbar’s, located opposite the Lakhuta gate in the north. The second battery, under Shujaat Khan and other officers, and the third, under Asaf Khan and other officers, were emplaced at unspecified locations. Meanwhile, Akbar sent his officers to devastate the rana‘s territory, hoping to find Udai Singh in the process, but they found no trace of the rana.

The opening phase of battle began when some overzealous Mogul troops launched a reckless direct assault upon the fort. Not surprisingly, the Moguls’ arrows and bullets glanced off the surface of the walls and battlements, whereas those the garrison discharged exacted a heavy toll on them.

After that minor debacle, Akbar decided that strategic planning rather than reckless courage was what was needed if the fortress was to be taken. Accordingly, the emperor adopted a two-pronged strategy. One entailed mining the walls of the fort in front of the royal battery, whereupon a party of selected Mogul troops would rush into the fort as soon as the breach was made. While the sappers dug mines under the walls, stonemasons opened the way by removing obstacles with their iron tools.

The other strategy called for the construction of sabats, or covered passageways, an ingenious siege contrivance that was peculiar to India. A sabat was a sinuous sheltered passageway that was constructed out of gunshot range, with earthen walls on both sides and a roof of planks strongly fastened together and covered with rawhide. When a breach was made by mines, troops would rush in under the cover of the sabat. Akbar ordered the construction of two sabats: one to be commenced from the royal battery and the other to be built in front of Shujaat Khan’s position.

At the same time, in the emperor’s presence, an exceptionally large mortar was cast to demolish the walls of the fort. When the defenders became aware of this and saw that the Moguls were making daily progress toward the destruction of the fort, they sent out two representatives to Akbar to bargain for peace, offering to become subjects of his court and to send an annual tribute. Several Mogul officers advised him to accept the offer, but Akbar was adamant: Nothing short of the rana surrendering in person would persuade him to lift the siege. As they were unwilling–or perhaps unable–to deliver the rana, the Rajputs had no choice but to continue the defense of their fort with renewed fervor.

While the sabat in front of the royal battery was being constructed, artillerymen and marksmen inside the fort kept up such a fusillade that about 200 Mogul laborers were killed daily, even though they protected themselves with rawhide shields. The corpses were buried in the walls of the sabat. But the workers were kept going by lavish gifts of gold and silver coins from the emperor–the amount of which was calculated according to the number of containers of earth added to the sabat. The sabat opposite Akbar’s position was soon completed near the fort. It was reported to be so extensive that 10 horsemen abreast could ride along it and so high that an elephant rider with his spear in his hand could pass under it.

At the same time, two mines close to each other were brought to the wall of the fort and filled with large quantities of gunpowder. A party of fully armed and accoutered Mogul soldiers, noted for their bravery, stationed themselves near the wall, ready to rush in when it was breached. On December 17, the gunpowder of both mines was set to explode at the same time. One part of the bastion was blown up, inflicting heavy casualties on the defenders. Unknown to the Moguls, however, only one mine had exploded. When the soldiers rushed toward the large breach and were about to enter, the second mine exploded (apparently, the match used to ignite the gunpowder of the mine that exploded first had been shorter than the other match, so the mines failed to discharge simultaneously).

Moguls and Rajputs alike, battling in the breach, were hurled into the air together, while others were crushed by falling debris. The blast was so powerful that limbs and stones were hurled a great distance from the fort. Mogul reinforcements and Rajput troops then engaged in a brief skirmish until the Rajputs succeeded in quickly repairing the demolished part of the wall. About 500 Mogul soldiers, including a significant number of noteworthy men, were killed, while a large number of Rajputs also perished. On the same day, another ill-timed mine exploded in front of Asaf Khan’s battery and claimed 30 more lives.

Akbar viewed these botched undertakings as temporary setbacks that should serve to inspire even greater exertion and resolve on the part of the Moguls. To ensure that the assault on the fort would continue unabated, he ordered the construction of the sabat in front of Shujatt Khan’s battery to be speeded up.

The emperor also frequently visited the sabat in his sector and fired at the garrison from loopholes in the sabat. One day, Akbar saw that some of his men were admiring the marksmanship of one of the musketeers of the fort when, at that very moment, a shot from that marksman hit Jalal Khan, one of Akbar’s attendants. Akbar was reported to have said to his injured attendant, Jalal Khan, that marksman does not show himself if he would do so, I’d avenge you. Although he could not see the marksman, Akbar took aim at the barrel of the musket that projected from a loophole. He fired but could not determine whether his shot had found its mark. It was only later that Akbar learned that his shot had indeed killed the sharpshooter, who was identified as Ismail, head of the musketeers.

Akbar proved to be quite a marksman himself, killing many noted members of the garrison. But the emperor also came close to losing his own life on a few occasions. Once, a large cannonball that fell near Akbar killed 20 soldiers but left him unscathed. On another occasion, a soldier standing near Akbar was hit by a bullet, and the emperor was saved from the same round only by his coat of mail.

When the second sabat was completed, the Mogul forces prepared to launch a full-scale assault on the fort. The Mogul troops went about their operations with such vigor and intensity that for two nights and a day they had neither food nor sleep, inspired by the personal example of Akbar, who was supervising the operations and keeping up a fusillade upon the garrison from the sabat. Special quarters had been erected for Akbar on top of the sabat, and the emperor stayed there during this crucial period.

On the night of February 22, the Moguls attacked the fort from all sides and created several breaches in the walls. The Rajput warriors put up a stubborn resistance. At one point in the fighting, Prince Patta’s mother commanded Patta to don the saffron robe, which would indicate his desire to die for his gods and his country. She also armed his young bride with a lance and accompanied her down the rock. The defenders of Chitor saw mother and daughter-in-law die heroically, fighting side by side.

The Moguls had destroyed a large part of the wall at the end of the sabat that faced the royal battery. The defenders collected such combustible materials as muslin, wood, cotton and oil to fill the breach, intending to set fire to the heap when the Mogul troops approached to prevent them from entering the fort.

Akbar was in a vantage point inside a specially made gallery on top of the sabat at the time, and he saw a man wearing a chieftain’s cuirass directing the proceedings at the breach. The emperor took out a matchlock he had christened Sangram (Akbar was said to have killed a few thousand birds and animals with this gun during his hunting trips). He then fired at the Rajput chief, but no one could be certain whether the chieftain had been hit.

An hour had passed when Akbar received reports that the Rajputs had inexplicably abandoned their defenses. At about that time, fire broke out in several places in the fort. Akbar’s Hindu adviser, Raja Bhagwan Das, told the Mogul emperor that the Rajputs must be performing their custom of johar.

It came to light later that Akbar’s shot had indeed found its target–none other than Jaimal. The Rajputs, disheartened by the death of their leader, had gone back to their homes to gather their wives, children and property in preparation for the johar. As many as 300 women, including nine ranis and five princesses, and an unknown number of children perished in three houses that served as fiery furnaces.

Although the defenses appeared to have been abandoned, the Moguls decided to proceed cautiously. They took advantage of the lull in the fighting to regroup in preparation for an organized assault on the fort. When the Mogul forces were massed, the soldiers entered the fort through several breaches.

The Rajputs, meanwhile, had finished eating their last betel nuts together and donned their saffron robes. They then sallied forth to meet their enemies and their destiny. Akbar, who was watching the close hand-to-hand combat from atop the sabat, then ordered his war elephants to be taken into the fort to join the onslaught.

At dawn on February 23, the Mogul emperor, accompanied by several thousand men, entered the fortress mounted on a majestic elephant. By then the Rajputs had been routed. People were fighting everywhere, and bodies lay in every street, lane, passageway and bazaar. Some Rajputs died fighting in temples, while others fought to the death in their own homes. Many Rajput warriors had made their last stand in the rana‘s house, from which they emerged in twos and threes to die fighting.

Initially, only about 50 elephants entered the fort, but by the battle’s end, there were as many as 300. The elephants did much damage, and a few were singled out for special praise. One such elephant, named Jangia, had its trunk cut off by a Rajput’s sword. Despite the severe injury, Jangia, who had killed 30 men before he was wounded, crushed another 15 before dying of his wounds.

On another occasion, an elephant trampled a Rajput, rolled him up in its trunk and brought him before Akbar. The mahout (elephant driver) said he did not know the man’s name, but he appeared to be a leader, as a large number of warriors had fought around him. That leader turned out to be the 16-year-old Patta.

The emperor also witnessed an act of Mogul chivalry in the battle. A Rajput warrior had challenged a Mogul soldier to combat when another Mogul decided to come to his aid. But the Mogul soldier waved his compatriot away, saying that it was against the rules of chivalry to render assistance when an opponent had challenged him. The Mogul then single-handedly disposed of the Rajput.

Nearly 30,000 Rajputs were killed, the majority mercilessly slaughtered when Akbar ordered a general massacre of the population. This uncharacteristic barbarity was to remain the only major blemish on the emperor’s otherwise enlightened reign. The peasantry had evidently incurred Akbar’s wrath when they participated as auxiliaries in the fighting. Akbar also may have been exasperated by the fierce resistance put up by the tenacious Rajput defenders. Many, mostly peasants, were made prisoners few Rajput warriors survived to, in the words of their creed, stain the yellow mantle by inglorious surrender. The Mogul troops also engaged in systematic pillaging of the palaces, temples and residences.

Akbar had particularly wanted to punish the musketeers who had exacted such a heavy toll on his troops when the sabats were being built. Apparently, they had managed to escape by a clever stratagem. In the confusion of battle, they tied up their wives and masqueraded as Mogul soldiers escorting prisoners of war. Mogul losses may have been small, but it is hard to believe the claims of Mogul sources of the time that only one soldier, Zarb Ali Tuwaci, had died in the fighting that followed the final storming of the fort.

After he fled from Chitor, Udai Singh II and his small band of followers took refuge among aboriginal hill tribes and later founded the city of Udaipur, which was named after him. He died four years after the fall of Chitor at the age of 42. In 1616, Akbar’s son and successor, Jahangir, handed Chitor back to the Sesodias, but they had already comfortably settled at Udaipur. Jahangir would not–or dared not–allow them to rebuild the defenses of the fortress, and Chitor was abandoned.

Akbar had known that Chitor would be difficult to take. If his efforts were successful, he had planned to make a thanksgiving pilgrimage to the tomb of Khwaja Muiddin Chisti in Ajmer, about 120 miles from Chitor. Akbar set out on his trek on February 28, 1568. In 1571, when he built his new capital city of Fatehpur Sikri, 24 miles west of the old capital of Agra, Akbar erected statues of Jaimal and Patta in front of one of his gates–as much a testament to the merits of his gallant foes as to his great conquest.

This article was written by Jeffrey Say Seck Leong and originally appeared in the February 1999 issue of Military History magazine. For more great articles be sure to subscribe to Military History magazine today!

Assorted References

It is generally believed that Hungary came into existence when the Magyars, a Finno-Ugric people, began occupying the middle basin of the Danube River in the late 9th century. According to the “double-conquest” theory of archaeologist Gyula László, however,…

…speech and the withdrawal of Hungary from the Warsaw Pact. While Hungary’s fate hung in the balance, the Western powers had their attention diverted by a second Middle Eastern war.

…the Ausgleich (“Compromise”) of 1867, Hungary was granted substantial autonomy, and separate parliaments, though based on limited suffrage, were established in Austria and Hungary. This result enraged Slavic nationalists, but it signaled an important departure from previous policies bent on holding the line against any dilution of imperial power.

…originated as the Party of National Will founded by Ferenc Szálasi in 1935. Szálasi’s party was quite small and underwent numerous reorganizations it reconstituted itself under a new name and emerged early in 1939 as the Arrow Cross Party. In the May 1939 national elections it became the second most…

…of 1867 between Austria and Hungary until the empire’s collapse in 1918.

…facilitated the solution of the Hungarian crisis. Friedrich Ferdinand, Freiherr (baron) von Beust (later Graf [count] von Beust), who had been prime minister of Saxony, took charge of Habsburg affairs, first as foreign minister (from October 1866) and then as chancellor (from February 1867). By abandoning the claim that Hungary…

…to become part of the Hungarian monarchy. In the 14th century there was a short-lived Bosnian kingdom under the Kotromanić dynasty, but it also joined Hungary—even though Bosnia was less Catholic in its composition because many Bogomil heretics had taken refuge there.

In Hungary the 1944 coalition included only two communist ministers, and in the 1945 election the moderate-liberal Smallholders’ Party led the poll. The communists threatened to quit the government, leaving it as a minority, unless they were given the Ministry of the Interior. They organized demonstrations…

>Hungary and Bulgaria (where a reported 20,000 people were liquidated), and the Red Army extended an invitation to “consult” with 16 underground Polish leaders only to arrest them when they surfaced. As Stalin said to the Yugoslav Communist Milovan Djilas: “In this war each side…

…(1514), unsuccessful peasant revolt in Hungary, led by nobleman György Dózsa (1470–1514), that resulted in a reduction of the peasants’ social and economic position.

Lithuania, Bohemia, and Hungary were all loosely associated at the close of the 15th century under rulers of the Jagiellon dynasty. In 1569, three years before the death of the last Jagiellon king of Lithuania-Poland, these two countries merged their separate institutions by the Union of Lublin. Thereafter…

…by King Andrew II of Hungary, which stated the basic rights and privileges of the Hungarian nobility and clergymen and the limits of the monarch’s powers. The Hungarian nobles, aroused by Andrew’s excesses and extravagances, forced him to promulgate the Golden Bull. It contained 31 articles, reaffirming previously granted rights…

…intense and sudden than in Hungary. What took place over several years in Germany occurred over 16 weeks in Hungary. Entering the war as a German ally, Hungary had persecuted its Jews but not permitted the deportation of Hungarian citizens. In 1941 foreign Jewish refugees were deported from Hungary and…

…elective kingdoms of Bohemia and Hungary, as well as Austria, the Tyrol, and Alsace, with about 8,000,000 inhabitants next came electoral Saxony, Brandenburg, and Bavaria, with more than 1,000,000 subjects each and then the Palatinate, Hesse,

…came from Pannonia (modern western Hungary), which had itself been a Roman province. Exactly how Romanized they were is a matter of dispute, but they certainly did not have the political coherence of the Ostrogoths, and they never conquered the whole of Italy. Alboin took the north but was soon…

…was unlucky in 899 the Hungarians invaded Italy, destroying Berengar’s army and initiating a series of raids that were to last, off and on, until the 950s.

On May 2, Hungary dismantled barriers on its border with Austria—the first real breach in the Iron Curtain.

Hungary became the second (after Poland) to seize its independence when the National Assembly, on October 18, amended its constitution to abolish the Socialist party’s “leading role” in society, legalize non-Communist political parties, and change the name of the country from the “People’s Republic” to…

…tribes, conquered what is now Hungary. In this way, the largest, but at the same time linguistically the most isolated, Finno-Ugric nation came into existence. Other Magyars live in Romania and Slovakia.

…status as a territory of Hungary until the end of World War I. When the Ausgleich, or Compromise, of 1867 created the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy, Croatia, which was part of the Habsburg empire, was merged with Slavonia and placed under Hungarian jurisdiction. Although many Croats who sought full autonomy for…

…Imre Nagy took power in Hungary and instituted reforms that constituted a marked retreat from socialism. His National Communist program returned retail trade and craft industries to private enterprise, made possible the dissolution of collective farms, de-emphasized industrial investments while increasing agricultural investments, and instituted an official policy of religious…

the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland (1999) Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania,

Hungary returned northern Transylvania to Romania. Italy ceded the Dodecanese islands to Greece and surrendered its overseas colonies, although a Soviet demand for a trusteeship over Libya was denied. Trieste was contested by Italy and Yugoslavia and remained under Western occupation until 1954. The major…

In Hungary, the Turkish victory at the Battle of Mohács in 1526 brought about a division of the land into three sections, with the northwest ruled by the Habsburg Ferdinand, the eastern province of Transylvania under Zápolya, and the area of Buda under the Turks. Even…


Held in Melbourne, Australia, in 1956, the 16th Olympiad coincided with one of the signal events of Cold War history: the Soviet army’s repression of an uprising in Hungary against the pro-Soviet government there. Thousands of Hungarians were killed during the incident, and in the…

Relations with

…while King Béla IV of Hungary received Steiermark. Troubles in Salzburg, stemming from a conflict between Bohemia and Hungary, inspired a rising among Steiermark’s nobles. Otakar intervened and in the Treaty of Vienna (1260) took over Steiermark as well. The state of anarchy that prevailed in Germany during this period…

…the Treaty of Carlowitz (1699) Hungary, Transylvania, and large parts of Slavonia (now in Croatia) fell to the Habsburg emperor. Meanwhile, the war in the west, overshadowed already by the question of the Spanish succession, had come to an end with the Treaty of Rijswijk (1697).

In 1784 he informed the Hungarian government that its official language, Latin, was not effective for modern government and, since Hungarian was spoken by only part of the population of that kingdom, that the language of government from then on would be German. That language would be used in the…

…or more serious than in Hungary. Joseph II’s effort to incorporate Hungary more fully into the monarchy, along with the early 19th century’s rising national awareness throughout Europe, had a profound impact upon the aristocratic Hungarians who held sway in the country. Modern nationalism made them even more intent on…

They included Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia (after Czechoslovakia had divided in 1939) in November 1940, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia in March 1941, and, after the wartime breakup of Yugoslavia, Croatia (June 1941).

…Montenegro and Herzegovina, rule by Hungary, and a brief period of renewed Byzantine rule. After the death of the emperor Manuel I Comnenus in 1180, Byzantine rule fell away, and government by Croatia or Hungary was not restored: a Bosnian territory (excluding much of modern Bosnia and all of Herzegovina)…

…with the new kingdom of Hungary, to whose ruler he was related by marriage. Alexius I had seen the importance of Hungary, lying between the Western and Byzantine empires, a neighbour of the Venetians and the Serbs. More ominous still was the establishment of the Norman kingdom of Sicily under…

…even under dynastic union with Hungary, institutions of separate Croatian statehood were maintained through the Sabor (an assembly of Croatian nobles) and the ban (viceroy). In addition, the Croatian nobles retained their lands and titles.

…to break relations with Austria-Hungary and declared the unification of the lands of Croatia, Dalmatia, and Slavonia in an independent Croatian state. Soon, however, the Sabor announced the incorporation of Croatia into a South Slav state and transferred its power to the newly created National Council of Slovenes, Croats,…

…of the lands of the Hungarian crown.

2, 1938), Hungary was granted one-quarter of Slovak and Ruthenian territories. By all these amputations Czechoslovakia lost about one-third of its population, and the country was rendered defenseless.

…Kun’s Communist coup d’état in Hungary on March 21. Kun immediately invaded Czechoslovakia and appealed to Lenin for help (which the Bolsheviks were in no condition to provide). On April 10 a Romanian army attacked Hungary, and successive Red and White terrors ensued. The episodes ended on May 1, when…

…by the Communist coup in Hungary, partitioned that ancient kingdom among its neighbours. Transylvania, including its minority of 1,300,000 Magyars, passed to Romania. The Banat of Temesvár (Timişoara) was divided between Romania and Yugoslavia, Sub-Carpathian Ruthenia passed to Czechoslovakia, and Croatia to Yugoslavia. All told, Hungary’s territory shrank from 109,000…

…1920 the French even courted Hungary and toyed with the idea of resurrecting a Danubian Confederation, but when the deposed Habsburg King Charles appeared in Hungary in March 1921, Allied protests and a Czech ultimatum forced him back into exile. Hungarian revisionism, however, motivated Beneš to unite those states that…

…broke the impetus of the Hungarian (Magyar) invasions, against which the military resources and methods of western European society had almost wholly failed for several decades. In 933, after long preparations, Henry routed a Hungarian attack on Saxony and Thuringia. In 955 Otto I (Otto the Great reigned 936–973), at…

…by a Mongol invasion of Hungary in 1241–42. Although victorious against the forces of King Béla IV, the Mongols evacuated Hungary and withdrew to southern and central Russia. Ruled by Batu (d. c. 1255), the Mongols of eastern Europe (the so-called Golden Horde) became a major factor in that region…

…alliance with Louis I of Hungary and Tsar Shishman of Bulgaria in the first European Crusade against the Ottomans. The Byzantine emperor John V Palaeologus tried to mobilize European assistance by uniting the churches of Constantinople and Rome, but that effort only further divided Byzantium without assuring any concrete

…of those languages, extending from Hungary eastward to the Pacific Ocean.

…with the new king of Hungary, Charles I, Władysław withstood the enmity of Bohemia, the Teutonic Knights, rival Polish dukes, and the mainly German patriciate of Kraków. At one point the struggle assumed the character of a Polish-German national conflict.

…ultimate goal of liberation of Hungary, which was not necessarily a Polish concern.

…Transylvania, a part of the Hungarian kingdom. To the south a number of small voivodates coalesced by 1330 into the independent Romanian principality of Walachia, and to the east a second principality, Moldavia, achieved independence in 1359.

links with Poland and Hungary. The princes of these areas still contested the crown of the “grand prince of Kiev and all of Rus,” but the title became an empty one when Andrew Bogolyubsky (Andrew I) of Suzdal won Kiev and the title in 1169, he sacked the city…

…1015 Transcarpathia was absorbed by Hungary, of which it remained a part for almost a millennium. With Hungary, it came in the 16th–17th centuries under the Habsburg dynasty. After the Union of Uzhhorod in 1646, on terms similar to the Union of Brest-Litovsk, the Uniate church became dominant in the…

In November Hungary occupied a strip of territory including the Carpatho-Ukrainian capital of Uzhhorod, and the autonomous government transferred its seat to Khust. On March 15, 1939, the diet proclaimed the independence of Carpatho-Ukraine while the country was already in the midst of occupation by Hungarian troops.…

After forming part of Hungary in the 11th–16th centuries, it was an autonomous principality within the Ottoman Empire (16th–17th century) and then once again became part of Hungary at the end of the 17th century. It was incorporated into Romania in the first half of the 20th century. The…

with Poland and Hungary, as well as Byzantium—brought considerable prosperity and culture flourished, with marked new influences from the West. In 1253 Danylo (in a bid for aid from the West) even accepted the royal crown from Pope Innocent IV and recognized him as head of the church,…

Role of

…and briefly titular king of Hungary (August 1620 to December 1621), in opposition to the Catholic emperor Ferdinand II.

…Austria (1848–1916) and king of Hungary (1867–1916), who divided his empire into the Dual Monarchy, in which Austria and Hungary coexisted as equal partners. In 1879 he formed an alliance with Prussian-led Germany, and in 1914 his ultimatum to Serbia led Austria and Germany into World War I.

…power in East Germany, Poland, Hungary, and Czechoslovakia in late 1989–90, Gorbachev agreed to the phased withdrawal of Soviet troops from those countries. By the summer of 1990 he had agreed to the reunification of East with West Germany and even assented to the prospect of that reunified nation’s becoming…

…like the Bohemian and the Hungarian, elective. If Habsburg was to succeed Habsburg as emperor continuously from Frederick’s death in 1493 to Charles VI’s accession in 1711, the principal reason was that the hereditary lands of the Habsburgs formed an aggregate large enough and rich enough to enable the dynasty…

…Ottoman Turks in defense of Hungary, his leadership was only nominal. The actual conduct of the expedition, which ended in the disastrous defeat of the crusaders on the battlefield of Nicopolis and the capture of John by the Turks (an adventure that earned him the epithet the Fearless), was entrusted…

…in the Austrian Netherlands and Hungary grew in the belief that preoccupation with the war would prevent the Emperor from taking on the revolutionaries as well. Joseph spent several months with his army but both his illness and the domestic crisis made progress dangerous, and he had to return to…

…March 20, 1955, Vence, France), Hungarian statesman who before World War I desired a reorientation of Austro-Hungarian foreign policy toward friendship with states other than Germany. He also advocated concessions to Hungary’s non-Magyar subjects. After the war, as president of the Hungarian Democratic Republic in 1919, Károlyi was nevertheless unable…

… (1699), almost the whole of Hungary was freed from Turkish rule.

…dealings with the Serbs and Hungarians. In 1167 Dalmatia, Croatia, and Bosnia were incorporated into the empire. Interfering in Hungarian dynastic struggles, he was rewarded when his candidate, Béla, was elected king in 1173. Elsewhere in the north his relations were not as successful. Relations between Venice and Constantinople were…

…mainly in southern and eastern Hungary. Some important sectors of the economy, such as textiles and iron making, were freed from guild restrictions. And in 1775 the government created a customs union out of most of the crown lands of the monarchy, excluding some of the peripheral lands and the…

…broke the military strength of Hungary, the Hungarian king, Louis II, losing his life in the battle (see Battle of Mohács).

…first European enterprise started in Hungary in 1211, when King Andrew II invited a group of the Teutonic Knights to protect his Transylvanian borderland against the Cumans by colonizing it and by converting its people to Christianity. The order was then granted extensive rights of autonomy but the knights’ demands…

…an attempt to save Austria-Hungary from collapse, World War I was transformed into a world conflict by Germany. William, having encouraged the Austrians to adopt an uncompromising line, took fright when he found war impending but was not able to halt the implementation of the mobilization measures that he…

… and signed by representatives of Hungary on one side and the Allied Powers on the other. It was signed on June 4, 1920, at the Trianon Palace at Versailles, France.

East Germany, Hungary, Poland, and Romania. (Albania withdrew in 1968, and East Germany did so in 1990.) The treaty (which was renewed on April 26, 1985) provided for a unified military command and for the maintenance of Soviet military units on the territories of the other participating…

…overthrow the Habsburg dynasty in Hungary its efforts resulted in the establishment of an absolutist, repressive regime in Hungary.

…Soviet and Romanian troops invaded Hungary in October, Horthy tried to extract his country from the war. But the SS arranged his overthrow, and fighting continued until the fall of Budapest on February 13, 1945. A foolish waste of troops for the Nazis, the battle of Budapest was equally irrational…

…German influence across Slovakia and Hungary into Romania, the oil fields of which he was anxious to secure against Soviet attack and the military manpower of which might be joined to the forces of the German coalition. In May 1940 he obtained an oil and arms pact from Romania but,…

German troops occupied Hungary on March 20, since Hitler suspected that the Hungarian regent, Admiral Miklós Horthy, might not resist the Red Army to the utmost.

Battle of Freiburg

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Battle of Freiburg, (3, 5, and 9 August 1644). The struggle for the city of Freiburg in 1644 between French and Bavarian-imperial armies was one of the bloodiest and longest battles of the Thirty Years’ War. Although the French suffered heavier casualties, they forced a retreat and went on to gain mastery of the middle Rhine region.

Following the French victory at the Battle of Rocroi, preliminary peace talks had begun in 1643, but fighting carried on regardless. In the summer of 1644, the Bavarian-imperial armies—under Field Marshal Franz von Mercy—had gone on the offensive in the Rhine and taken the French stronghold of Freiburg (in present-day Germany) on 29 July. The commander of the French armies in Germany was Henri, Viscount of Turenne, an experienced soldier. Joining him to help retake Freiburg was Belgium’s Duke of Enghien. Together they commanded 20,000, outnumbering von Mercy by 3,500.

Von Mercy’s cavalry was in poor condition so he decided to conduct an infantry-based defense on the earthworks and wooded high ground around Freiburg. At 5:00 PM on 3 August, the French launched a frontal assault against the first line of von Mercy’s fortifications. The French ended the day in control of the field, but had taken heavy casualties. Von Mercy pulled his forces back and they were able to entrench their new positions on 4 August because the French were exhausted.

On 5 August the French attacked but they were again forced back at the cost of 4,000 killed or wounded. Von Mercy’s army was too tired to counterattack and Enghien called on reinforcements of 5,000. The French moved to attack Freiburg again on 9 August. Von Mercy, sensing the danger, withdrew and was able to retreat without any great losses under pressure from the French.

Losses: French, 7,000-8,000 of 25,000 Bavarian-Imperial, 2,500 of 16,500.

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The Battle of Guadalcanal: The End of the Beginning

U.S. Marines landed on Guadalcanal on August 7 in an epic battle that changed the direction of the Pacific Theater in World War II.

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Eight months after being attacked at Pearl Harbor, the U.S. finally sent ground forces up against the enemy. The site was a steaming, disease-ridden equatorial island northeast of Australia called Guadalcanal.

The U.S. Navy had already engaged the Japanese at the Battle of Midway and inflicted heavy damage on their navy. Now the Marines and Army troops, along with the Navy, would confront the ground forces of Japan at Guadalcanal.

The Japanese had seized the Solomon Islands in the summer of 1942 and begun building a key airfield on the island. When completed, it would give the Japanese air force control over the shipping lanes between the U.S. and its Australian ally.

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Intending to take the airfield from the Japanese, U.S. Marines landed on Guadalcanal on August 7. They met little opposition at first as they marched inland to seize the airfield. But the commander of the assault force grew concerned that he might lose his fighter cover, so he pulled back his supply ships and withdrew, taking away 2,000 men that the Marines were counting on.

Left short of artillery, food, men, and air cover, the Marines remained surrounded by Japanese forces for the next four months. In Washington, there were understandable concerns that Guadalcanal would turn into another Corregidor, where besieged American troops had surrendered to the Japanese.

Over the months that followed, naval and ground forces waged fierce battles for control of the island. The Marines held Henderson Airfield and kept it open for air support despite continual Japanese bombardments and attacks. The Navy fought costly battles that culminated in November with what Admiral Ernest King called “one of the most furious sea battles ever fought.”

In “Guadalcanal — 1942,” Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Samuel Eliot Morison describes the desperate naval engagements that were a crucial part in the victory of this seven-month-long conflict.

Today, the Guadalcanal campaign is memorable for two reasons. First, it was the closest the U.S. came to losing the war in the Pacific, but second, its victory put America on the offensive against Japan for the rest of the war. It was, as Winston Churchill said, “not even the beginning of the end, but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”

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Battle of Mensignac, 25 October 1568 - History

Editor's Note: This article was originally written for Japan Society's previous site for educators, "Journey through Japan," in 2003.

The century after the outbreak of the internecine Ônin War in 1468&mdashthe terminal phase of the Middle Ages in Japan&mdashwas an epoch of unbounded violence. The polity splintered into hundreds of autonomous entities engaged in mutual contention. The nation&rsquos nominal sovereign, the emperor, was impoverished and politically impotent&mdasha remote, isolated, and nebulous figure whose reign could best be described as metaphorical. The other key person in the moribund central government was the shogun, a general magnificently called the pillar of the military, who was a scion of the great warrior family of the Ashikaga. Theoretically the emperor&rsquos delegate and chief support, historically the usurper of his power, the shogun had by the end of the fifteenth century been reduced to a feeble if not abject figure who was alternately a puppet in the hands of his supposed vassals and rear vassals or a fugitive from Kyoto, his capital city. The country was an arena where combat among great lords called daimyo (literally, &ldquogreat names&rdquo), petty provincial barons, armed religious institutions, and other fractious elements was the order of the day.

The disorder that had overcome the nation was put to an end by three heroic figures&mdashOda Nobunaga (1534-1582), Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598), and Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616)&mdashwho transformed Japan from a country plagued by political fragmentation, social upheaval, and military conflict into one that was united, secure, and peaceful. The epoch of unification over which they presided is commonly called the Azuchi-Momoyama period (1568-1615) after the sites of castles associated with them.

The first of the unifiers, Oda Nobunaga, was still in his teens when he succeeded his father as the lord of a domain in Owari Province (the area of Nagoya) in Central Japan. He spent much of the 1550s in fighting off various members of his extended family and their party-takers in the struggle for mastery over the entire province. From this vicious contest he emerged the winner in 1558 after killing his younger brother. In 1560 Nobunaga survived a severe external threat by leading his small force to victory over the much larger invading army of Imagawa Yoshimoto, his daimyo neighbor on the east, at the Battle of Okehazama. In 1567 he conquered Mino Province, to the north of Owari. Having thus become the daimyo of two large, productive, and strategically located provinces, Nobunaga was ready to enter the stage of national politics, and he signaled his intention to do so by adopting the slogan &ldquothe realm subjected to the military&rdquo as the emblem on his seal. In 1568 he embraced the cause of a pretender to the shogunate, Ashikaga Yoshiaki, and marched on Kyoto, where he installed his protégé in office, but not in power. Nobunaga used his special relationship with the new shogun to increase his own prestige and authority, reserving the dominant role for himself.

The protector bullied the shogun. For his part, Yoshiaki plotted against the formidable patron whom he had in the initial, passing flush of gratitude addressed as &ldquoMy Father.&rdquo In March 1573, when a strong daimyo coalition seemed poised to destroy Nobunaga, the shogun entered the lists against him overtly. But the coalition&rsquos lead actor Takeda Shingen, the lord of three provinces and portions of five others, died of disease, freeing Nobunaga to turn on its other members. In August he banished Yoshiaki, thereby ending the Ashikaga shogunate de facto after 237 years of a vicissitudinous existence. Before the end of September, two other principals of the coalition&mdashAsakura Yoshikage, the daimyo of Echizen Province (now the greater part of Fukui Prefecture, on the Sea of Japan), and Azai Nagamasa, the lord of northern Ômi Province (on Lake Biwa)&mdashhad been defeated in battle and had committed suicide. Nobunaga assigned their conquered domains to his vassals.

These successes of the year 1573 significantly advanced Nobunaga&rsquos ambition to subject the realm to his control. He was, however, beset on his flanks by an indomitable enemy, the armed confederations of the so-called Single-Minded or True Pure Land sect, a branch of Buddhism rooted in faith in the savior Amida. These provincial leagues were by no means disorganized bands of peasants. Rather, they were efficient organizations ready to take on all comers in the defense of their faith. At their head was the abbot of the great temple-citadel Honganji in Osaka, in effect the pontiff of a religious monarchy, who appointed administrators over entire provinces, issued mobilization orders for military campaigns, and formed strategic alliances with secular lords. The pontiff threw down the gauntlet in 1570. Heeding his call to action against the &ldquoenemy of the Buddhist Law,&rdquo the rural confederates of the Osaka Honganji fought Nobunaga tooth and nail, repeatedly mauling his armies even in his own home province, Owari. In 1574, local warriors in league with the Honganji killed the military governor newly installed by Nobunaga in Echizen, and that province came under the control of the Single-Minded sectarians. Nobunaga had to conquer Echizen all over again the next year, and he did so by letting loose a massive wave of terror on the populace. His troops were told that as they pushed forward, they were to scour the mountains and forests and cut down everyone they came across, men and women alike. Apart from the countless victims of these search-and-destroy missions, the confederates&rsquo thousands of battle casualties, and the more than twelve thousand prisoners whom Nobunaga ordered to be killed, the toll suffered by the population of Echizen included many additional thousands taken away by force to other provinces. Not that the Honganji was intimidated by these atrocities and by the massacres of its adherents perpetrated by Nobunaga elsewhere. Supported and supplied by various lords inimical to him, the temple-citadel held out until 1580. Its surrender that autumn represented a great step forward in Nobunaga&rsquos seemingly unstoppable march of conquest.

Nobunaga&rsquos surge to power reached its high-water mark in the spring of 1582, when his armies destroyed another persistent enemy, the Takeda family, and absorbed its domains. (The Takeda had been in decline since 1575, when Nobunaga&rsquos musketry slaughtered their troops at the Battle of Nagashino. Intent on &ldquokilling them all without a single friendly casualty,&rdquo Nobunaga had deployed his harquebusiers behind board screens, which gave them protection as they blasted successive attacking waves of the Takeda men with ferocious gunfire.) On incorporating the territories of that great eastern daimyo house, the realm under Nobunaga&rsquos control comprised twenty-nine of traditional Japan&rsquos sixty-six provinces and large parts of four others. It occupied a contiguous space that stretched on Honshû, the main island of the archipelago, from the Sea of Japan to the Pacific Ocean, covering Central Japan, and reached across the Inland Sea to the island of Shikoku. Nobunaga made it clear that he considered himself the supreme if not the sole authority in this realm, one subjugated, unified, and reconstituted by him.

After his triumph over the Takeda, the imperial court offered to make him shogun and even to &ldquoappoint him to any rank at all.&rdquo Apparently confident that he did not need the emperor&rsquos validation of his status&mdashthat the empowerment he gave to himself was sufficient &mdashNobunaga politely but firmly refused to discuss these proposals. In June 1582, less than a month after declining the court&rsquos offer to elevate him to the highest levels of titular authority, the self-confident ruler was dead, the victim of an assassin from the upper tier of his trusted vassals.

Although his death was sudden, Nobunaga left behind a solid platform for the regime of unification. It was Toyotomi Hideyoshi who inherited (or, rather, seized) that platform and built on it. A man of obscure origins but obvious talent, Hideyoshi rose in Nobunaga&rsquos service from a menial to a general in charge of major operations. At the time of his lord&rsquos murder in Kyoto, he was away campaigning on a distant front. Demonstrating great diplomatic, logistic, and tactical skills, Hideyoshi disengaged, rushed his army to the area of the capital city, and defeated the assassin, Akechi Mitsuhide, in battle within nine days of hearing the news. In 1583, he swept away those among Nobunaga&rsquos former paladins who were bold enough to oppose him militarily the rest submitted to his hegemony and became his vassals. To be sure, the greatest of them all, Tokugawa Ieyasu, fought a protracted military campaign against Hideyoshi in 1584-1585 before he, too, subordinated himself. In 1585, Hideyoshi finished another task begun but left unfinished by Nobunaga, that of &ldquopacifying&rdquo the True Pure Land sect&rsquos leagues and other Buddhist communities in Kii Province (south of Osaka) with arson and carnage. Later that year, he reduced all of Shikoku to fealty. In 1587, having assembled upwards of 200,000 men, Hideyoshi subjugated the nine provinces of Kyushu in an invasion that took only five weeks to complete victoriously. He then redrew the political map of Kyushu by uprooting various local lords from their ancestral territories and transplanting them elsewhere while he emplaced his current confidants and his old comrades-in-arms from as far away as the northern periphery of the Japan Alps in domains on the island. In other words, Hideyoshi used Kyushu as his stage for a grand puppet play, demonstrating that even great regional lords were nothing more than moveable objects in the hands of their supreme overlord.

On that stage the hegemon played the part of the national ruler as a bravura role, assuming the posture of extreme nationalism towards the Europeans and their Christian converts, who were concentrated on Kyushu. Portuguese traders and Jesuit missionaries had first come to Japan in the 1540s. At that time, some of the warring lords had seen a distinct advantage in protecting them, sought out their commerce, and even embraced their Catholic religion. The Christian mission, initiated in 1549 by the Basque priest (and future saint) Francis Xavier and supported by Japanese lords for their own, far from disinterested reasons, achieved a measure of success in certain limited parts of the country. By 1582, the Jesuits had made no fewer than 150,000 converts.

On conquering Kyushu, however, Hideyoshi proclaimed to the foreigners and their converts, &ldquoJapan is the Land of the Gods.&rdquo To destroy the shrines of those gods, along with the temples of the Buddhas, in the process of turning people willy-nilly into Christian sectarians &ldquois unheard of,&rdquo Hideyoshi&rsquos decree continued. Such actions being &ldquomiscreant,&rdquo he ordered their initiators, the Jesuit padres, to leave Japan. The Portuguese merchants were specifically exempted from this expulsion edict, as trade was &ldquoa different matter.&rdquo In the event, the missionaries were spared the worst for the time being. Hideyoshi did not enforce his decree against them, probably because he thought that the priests still had their uses as intermediaries with the Catholic traders. But he expropriated the overseas merchants&rsquo habitual port of Nagasaki, legally a Jesuit colony since 1580, and made it a part of his direct domain. No doubt there was a healthy portion of self-interest behind the confiscation, but the action also helped to establish an important public principle. By these determinations in regard to the Europeans, Hideyoshi showed that the conduct of foreign affairs was no longer a regional matter, something that provincial lords engaged in. Henceforth, Japan&rsquos external relations would be ruled from the center.

To be sure, Hideyoshi was not yet the master of the entire country&mdashnot when he conquered Kyushu in 1587, and not even when he destroyed his last great daimyo opponent, the Hôjô family of Odawara in the Kantô region, in August 1590. The vast northern provinces Mutsu and Dewa, a third of the total landmass of Honshû, remained beyond Hideyoshi&rsquos compass. It took another fourteen and a half months before the huge armies set in motion by him finally subdued the Far North in the autumn of 1591. Not until then was all of Japan integrated under one system of authority.

Indeed, Hideyoshi&rsquos integral realm was not confined within the traditional borders of the Japanese empire. It extended beyond them. During the conquest of the Far North, Kakizaki Yoshihiro, an enterprising samurai who ran a Japanese outpost in what was then known as Ezochi (Alien Territory) and is now called Hokkaidô, led a group of Ainu, the aboriginal people of that island, in the attack on the last independence-minded baron of Mutsu Province. Hideyoshi recognized that warrior&rsquos contribution to the campaign by enfeoffing him as the lord of a domain in southern Hokkaidô and granting him the right to collect tariffs on trade with the island. With these dispositions Hideyoshi formalized the beginnings of Japanese colonization and exploitation of Hokkaidô. In the Tokugawa period, these activities, resisted though they were by the indigenous population, were to attain great economic importance.

The conquest of the Far North was consummated with yet another demonstration of paramount authority on the part of Hideyoshi. The local lords were either dispossessed or integrated into his regime. Those lucky enough to be confirmed in their possessions were by that very fact turned from regional rulers in their own right into Hideyoshi&rsquos delegates, men invested by him with fiefs and serving at his sufferance. They were ordered to send their wives and children to reside in Kyoto, Hideyoshi&rsquos capital city to destroy all forts in their domains except for their own residential castles and to carry out cadastral surveys in their fiefs as a basis for the assessment of productivity. These policies of the unification regime were already familiar to their fellow daimyo in the rest of Japan. Castle busting, land surveys, daimyo transfers, and even Hideyoshi&rsquos most notorious policy, the so-called sword hunt in 1588 which deprived the agricultural population of weapons, were measures that had been applied in Nobunaga&rsquos time on a provincial or regional basis. What was new was their systematic application on a national scale. In other words, once Hideyoshi had conquered the entire country, his policies became the law of the land.

Significantly, it was in October 1591, just as the last resistance in the Far North was being extinguished, that Hideyoshi issued his most sweeping, penetrating, and draconian edict, a decree regarding social status that divided the population into four classes&mdashsamurai, farmers, artisans, and merchants. Strict boundaries had not divided these four groups before. Farmers bore and used arms, and men who went about armed also engaged in farming contrary to popular belief, there was no distinct samurai &ldquoclass&rdquo in the Middle Ages. Even in Nobunaga&rsquos castle town of Azuchi, a military man could pursue one of the trades and live among tradesmen. Hideyoshi&rsquos measures governing change of status put a stop to this relative social fluidity. In practice, artisans and merchants were regarded as closely related groups, both of them being included under the common label of townspeople. Samurai, farmers, and townspeople, however, were mutually exclusive categories. The change of affiliation from one to another of these was strictly prohibited.

The samurai constituted the governing class. For the most part, they were compelled to withdraw from the countryside to the castle town, where they lived in segregated residential quarters. They retained the right to bear arms, something denied the other classes. The populace had been disarmed, settling one of the principal conflicts of the &ldquocountry at war.&rdquo So the samurai held the monopoly on inflicting violence. Here Hideyoshi laid down the design plan for the rigid class system that matured under his successor regime, the Tokugawa shogunate, and lasted until that regime&rsquos fall in 1868.

Unlike Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, a man of no known pedigree, was intent on obtaining legitimation through the imperial court. In 1585, he arranged to have himself adopted into the highest lineage of the court nobility, qualifying him to be appointed kanpaku, imperial regent. While this office, which originated in the ninth century and was all-important at court until the last part of the eleventh, retained no more than a titular function by the time Hideyoshi assumed it, his actual power again gave the regency real authority. As though to gild the lily, in 1587 Hideyoshi had himself appointed grand chancellor of state (daijô daijin), the highest ministerial rank stipulated in the ancient constitution of Japan. The newly ennobled regent and chancellor created a fitting entourage for himself when he translated his military vassals into members of the civil aristocracy, arranging court titles for his principal feudatories. In short, Hideyoshi breathed life into the empty form of the imperial government in order to use it for his own purposes.

By then into his fifties, Hideyoshi was childless. His long-awaited first son, born in 1589, died at the age of two. In early 1592 he therefore adopted his nephew Hidetsugu as his son and heir, passing on the office of imperial regent to him while keeping a firm hold on power. The unexpected birth of another natural son, Hideyori, in 1593 was a joyful event for Hideyoshi but had fatal consequences for Hidetsugu, who turned overnight from Hideyoshi&rsquos expedient means of attaining his main objective&mdashpassing on the governing power to a member of his own family&mdashinto someone who stood in its way. In 1595 Hideyoshi forced Hidetsugu to commit suicide, executed his family and friends, and eradicated his progeny, following up this bloody purge by exacting oaths of loyalty to Hideyori from the leading daimyo. To ensure Hideyori&rsquos succession was the major task entrusted to the council popularly known as the Five Great Elders, a group of the most important grandees of the realm that emerged at the time of Hidetsugu&rsquos fall and developed into the top executive organ of Hideyoshi&rsquos regime. Tokugawa Ieyasu was this group&rsquos most powerful figure.

But the problem of the succession was not Hideyoshi&rsquos sole concern, and his ambitions were not limited to Japan alone. With the Far North mere days away from complete subjugation by the armies of his vassals in the autumn of 1591, he ordered the daimyo to prepare for another great military effort. After Mutsu Province, there was nothing left to conquer in Japan. This time, Hideyoshi planned a foreign war of aggression&mdashan invasion of Korea and China, with India and even &ldquoSouth Barbary&rdquo (wherever it was that the Portuguese came from) looming in his utterances as the distant objectives. Obviously, geography was not Hideyoshi&rsquos strong suit else he would have realized that his target list was too ambitious, that China was too big for his maw, and that India was beyond his horizon.

Hideyoshi, did, however, have the capability to inflict great damage and suffering on Korea. His expeditionary force of almost 160,000 men began landing at Pusan at the southeastern tip of the Korean Peninsula in May 1592. No more than three weeks from the start of the invasion, the Japanese captured Seoul, Korea&rsquos capital a month and a half later, they occupied P&rsquoyongyang two months after that, they were in control of the entire northeastern quarter of the peninsula, all the way to the Yalu and Tumen rivers. These were rapid but ephemeral gains. The Japanese never obtained a secure hold on the Korean countryside, where guerrillas constantly harassed their lines of communication. The Korean fleet, superior to Hideyoshi&rsquos naval forces in armament and leadership, commanded the sea and made the task of supplying their forward divisions exceedingly difficult for the Japanese. The tide turned when a relief army sent by China, Korea&rsquos suzerain, intervened in force at the beginning of 1593, surprising and routing the invaders. By the summer, the Japanese had withdrawn to a string of forts along the coast of the peninsula&rsquos southeastern corner. There some 80,000 of them remained on garrison duty for the next four years, while futile and in large part fraudulent negotiations were conducted. The Koreans were not given much of a say in the peace process. The presupposition of supremacy on China&rsquos part, no less than delusions of grandeur and invincibility on Hideyoshi&rsquos, meant that peace was not given a chance. When the Chinese emperor, far from responding positively to Hideyoshi&rsquos list of demands, offered him nothing better than vassalage under the title &ldquoKing of Japan,&rdquo the Japanese warlord decided to reinforce his expeditionary army and resume offensive operations in Korea.

In the second campaign of aggression, launched in August 1597, Hideyoshi deployed a land force of 140,000 men with the objective of occupying Korea&rsquos southern provinces and creating a fait accompli&mdashthe country&rsquos partition. Again, the Japanese enjoyed initial successes again, the Chinese army blocked them on land and the Korean navy on the sea again, they were forced to pull back to a fortress belt along the southern coastline. The second offensive was an even worse failure than the first, as Hideyoshi&rsquos troops, under assault, were hard put to hold on to their bases on the coast. Nevertheless, even on his deathbed Hideyoshi refused to abandon his vain ambition and give the order to withdraw from Korea. Throughout, his troops dealt death and destruction. Not to mention combatants, tens of thousands of the innocent Korean populace&mdashmen, women, and children&mdashwere hunted down to be killed, mutilated, or enslaved by the Japanese troops, whose cruel acts burdened the history of relations between the two countries with a terrible legacy.

When Hideyoshi died in September 1598, the Five Great Elders brought the Japanese troops home from Korea, but the fissures latent in his inner circle came to the surface. Two parties formed among men made by Hideyoshi&mdashthe so-called generals&rsquo clique made up of the likes of Katô Kiyomasa and other warhorses who had gained notoriety in Korea, and the so-called administrators&rsquo clique led by Ishida Mitsunari, who had made his reputation not on the field of battle but on the rice fields where Hideyoshi&rsquos nation-wide land survey was conducted. The outer lords, too, divided into parties and braced for a climactic military conflict, one where domination over Japan would be at stake. Safeguarding Hideyoshi&rsquos heritage became a shibboleth, an empty slogan. His heir Hideyori was five years old, and the putative guardians of the Toyotomi family&rsquos interests were governed by self-interest. In particular, Tokugawa Ieyasu kept an eye out for the main chance.

Ieyasu was of country baron stock, a cut below Nobunaga&rsquos social status. Textbooks usually describe him as Nobunaga&rsquos ally. In fact, Ieyasu took the utmost care to demonstrate his subservience to Nobunaga throughout their relationship. In 1582, after the defeat of the Takeda, Nobunaga &ldquogave the two provinces Suruga and Tôtômi to Lord Ieyasu,&rdquo that is, invested him with those provincial domains (now combined in Shizuoka Prefecture) under conditions of vassalage. In 1590, after the defeat of the Hôjô of Odawara, Hideyoshi transferred Ieyasu from his old territories and enfeoffed him with six provinces in the Kantô region. Ieyasu took up his residence in Edo, at the time an insignificant small town, which he and his successors were to make into the world&rsquos largest city&mdashnow called Tokyo.

Clever enough to content himself with playing a subordinate role under Nobunaga, Ieyasu again showed great astuteness when he acknowledged Hideyoshi as his overlord after fighting him to a draw in the Komaki-Nagakute campaign of 1584-1585. That Ieyasu profited from having adopted the status of a liegeman willingly is beyond dispute. The annual productivity of the domains that Hideyoshi granted him in the Kantô was estimated at 2,500,000 koku of rice (one koku equals 5.1 bushels), making Ieyasu Japan&rsquos greatest daimyo. To be sure, he was just another daimyo vis-à-vis Hideyori and the corporate legitimacy of the Toyotomi regime. What really counted, however, was that Ieyasu and his party-takers mustered the bigger battalions in the showdown that came two years after Hideyoshi&rsquos death.

Ieyasu provoked this conflict by bellicose actions that he sought to justify as initiatives taken in defense of the interests of the House of Toyotomi. The &ldquogenerals&rsquo clique&rdquo lined up behind him. In turn, the &ldquoadministrators&rdquo drew up a manifesto denouncing Ieyasu&rsquos unilateralism, his usurpations of authority, and his broken oaths. Many powerful lords of western Japan proclaimed their allegiance to the anti-Tokugawa cause, mobilized their armies, and marched eastward.

In October 1600, the &ldquoEastern Army&rdquo commanded by Ieyasu and numbering some 90,000 clashed at Sekigahara in Mino Province with the 80,000 men of the &ldquoWestern Army&rdquo led by Ishida Mitsunari. When one of its principal contingents not only deserted but attacked the &ldquoWestern Army&rdquo in the middle of the combat, Ieyasu&rsquos victory was assured. Along with the battle, he won the dominion over Japan.

In the aftermath of the Battle of Sekigahara, it was Ieyasu&rsquos turn to reward his friends and reduce his enemies. He confiscated the domains of eighty-eight lords who had adhered to the &ldquoWestern Army,&rdquo and reduced the holdings of five who had been hostile or had vacillated. The total estimated annual yield of these expropriations was 6,320,000 koku, that is, one third of the country&rsquos calculated productivity. The vacated domains were appropriated by Ieyasu himself or redistributed to Tokugawa loyalists. And now it was Hideyori who found himself relegated to the status of just another daimyo.

In March 1603, when Ieyasu was appointed shogun by the emperor, his conquest was ratified by the land&rsquos highest authority, and he became Japan&rsquos legitimate ruler. This was the beginning of the national government called the Tokugawa shogunate. Two years later, in order to demonstrate that the office would be hereditary in his family, Ieyasu resigned the position of shogun, passing it on to his son Tokugawa Hidetada, although he continued to keep a forceful hand in affairs. Tokugawa shoguns were destined to rule Japan until January 1868, for a total of 265 years.

There remained a thorn in Ieyasu&rsquos side, a potential focus of disunity to take care of: Toyotomi Hideyori. Hideyoshi&rsquos son was growing up in the powerful citadel built by his father in Osaka on the site previously occupied by the Honganji. Reputed to be impregnable, Hideyori&rsquos Osaka Castle proved not to be as formidable, after all, as the Single-Minded sect&rsquos fortress had been in defying Nobunaga for ten years. In the winter of 1614, Ieyasu put the Toyotomi stronghold under siege taking advantage of an armistice, he filled in its moats and laid bare its approaches in the summer of 1615, he stormed it. Hideyori died in the flames of his father&rsquos fatally weakened castle, and Japan was well and truly unified.

Factfile: Battle of Sark

Renewed border skirmishing saw Henry Percy, future 3rd earl of Northumberland, defeated by Hugh Douglas, earl of Ormond, on 23 October 1448.

The encounter took place on the river Sark, near Gretna.

Percy was taken prisoner and had to be ransomed.

The following year the English burned Dumfries and Dunbar, and the Scots Alnwick and Warkworth.

Source: The Oxford Companion to British History

The Inventory of Historic Battlefields was created in 2011 and helps with the protection and management of battlefields.

The full list of other battlefields, added in three phases, are: Alford (1645), Ancrum Moor (1545), Auldearn (1645), Bannockburn (1314), Bothwell Bridge (1679), Culloden (1746), Dunbar II (1650), Dupplin Moor (1332), Falkirk II (1746), Glenshiel (1719), Harlaw (1411), Killiecrankie (1689), Kilsyth (1645), Philiphaugh (1645), Pinkie (1547), Prestonpans (1745) and Sheriffmuir (1715).

Barra (1308), Carbisdale (1650), Cromdale (1690), Drumclog (1679), Fyvie (1645), Inverkeithing II (1651), Inverlochy II (1645), Linlithgow Bridge (1526), Mulroy (1688), Rullion Green (1666) and Stirling Bridge (1297).

Blar-na-Leine (1544), Dunbar I (1296), Dunkeld (1689), Glenlivet (1594), Inverlochy I (1431), Langside (1568), Loudoun Hill (1307), Roslin (1303), Sauchieburn (1488), Skirmish Hill (1526) and Tippermuir (1644).

Aftermath and Impact

At the Battle of Lepanto, the Holy League lost 50 galleys and suffered approximately 13,000 casualties. This was offset by the freeing of a similar number of enslaved Christians from the Ottoman ships. In addition to the death of Ali Pasha, the Ottomans lost 25,000 killed and wounded and an additional 3,500 captured. Their fleet lost 210 ships, of which 130 were captured by the Holy League. Coming at what was seen as a crisis point for Christianity, the victory at Lepanto stemmed Ottoman expansion in the Mediterranean and prevented their influence from spreading west. Though the Holy League fleet was unable to exploit their victory due to the onset of winter weather, operations over the next two years effectively confirmed a division of the Mediterranean between the Christian states in the west and the Ottomans in the east.

Watch the video: 110 Battlefield II The Battle of the Crimea Ep8 World War II (May 2022).


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