August 29, 1526,
Ottoman army of 68 units opposed to Hungarian army of 36 units
for a battle of complexity 0.78 at Regiment(III) level
on a 2.5 Km/Hex map
for 36 turns of Full Day each.
by Mark Stevens submited on 11-02-2006
Rugged-Defense Playing Statistics
the Battle of Mohacs, 29th August 1526
The Death of Hungary
This scenario is using the XIXth Century database engine. You can download it here
In 1526 the Ottoman Turkish army under Sultan Suliman 'the Magnificant' marched north along the valley of the Danube from its base at Belgrade towards the Hungarian capital of Buda (at this stage still separate from Pest, on the opposite bank of the river). King Louis II of Hungary was a weak ruler, married to a Hapsburg princess and regarded as representing that family's influence in the country. He was opposed by elements of the 'native' nobility led, amongst others, by the influential Zapolya family. As a result the Hungarians, long the bulwark of Christendom in Europe, were unable to field an army capable of meeting the Turks in the open. When the decision was finally taken to stand and fight to protect the capital the army was a good third smaller than it could have been: John Zapolya, the Voivode of Transylvania, having levied a large force but having failed to join the main army, despite several summons. At the time of the battle he lay with his army about a hundred miles away: some have seen this as deliberate treachery - he later became the Turk's puppet ruler of Hungary - but, if so, he had betrayed not only his country and religion but his family, as his brother George was a senior commander in the royal army and died on the field.
The Ottoman army consisted of some 2,000 Janissaries, the Sultan's slave infantry, 5,000 other mixed levies, and supposedly 300 cannon. As ever with an Eastern army, its strength lay in the cavalry: 7,000 Spahis of the Porte, the well-trained and equipped mounted slave equivalents of the Janissaries; 25,000 feudal style cavalry of varying quality, and 20,000 nomadic horse archers, of which the Tartars were the most effective.
The Hungarians fielded some 13,000 foot and 12,000 horse. The former were a mixture of foreign mercenaries and levies from the border regions, experienced in war against the Turks; the latter, 4,000 of the nobility in full plate armour, backed by a greater number of the famous hussars, equipped similarly to the better armed Spahis, with a few thousand lighter cavalry. The royal army had about 80 light cannon. There were relatively few native Hungarian infantry since they hated the nobility, who consequently weren't going to arm them!
There was a heated debate about the best tactics to adopt: entrench the baggage train and wait for John Zapolya or other support to arrive, or to attack, relying on the heavier Hungarian cavalry to ride down the more numerous but far less effective Turks. The first course might have been more prudent, but while the army sat there the enemy light cavaly would have burned every village, hamlet and unfortified estate for hundreds of miles. Fighting clerics were very well represented in the Hungarian army and in addition to the practical arguements there was also a strong religious belief that God would not allow a Christian army to be defeated by Moslems. Doubtless similar, if diametrically opposite, sentiments were present among the Turks.
Mark Stevens, January 2006
There are three turns for a Hungarian human player to arrange the troops in either an offensive or defensive formation before the battle starts.
It's only fair to point out that if the Hungarians do choose to defend their laager it may not produce the most interesting game, unless the Turks start looking exhausted and vunerable to a counter-attack!
In the event the decision was taken for an attack, at which the Bishop of Varasdin is supposed to have whispered that the Pope should make arrangements for the immediate canonization of 20,000 Christian martyrs: he wasn't far out.
The Turks were suitably wary of the initial impact of any attack led by the fully armed knights, and formed up in great depth, with a screen of horse archers, backed succesively by the European ('Roumelian') cavalry, the Asian ('Anatolian') cavaly, and finally a line of chained guns, the levy infantry and the Sultan's guard troops. 4,000 horse archers were sent out on a wide flank march to the left (the right being covered by the Danube).
The Hungarian charge penetrated as far as the chained gun line where it faltered, and the Ottoman cavalry swarmed around and all but annihilated the army, which lost about half of its strength. The King, most of the great officers of state and the bulk of the noble and clerical leadership died on the field or were executed afterwards. Hungary became a dependency of the Ottoman Empire for the next hundred and fifty years.
This is the likely result in a straightforward game; do try it, but to make it more interesting there are some alternatives built in:
in a Turkish game against the PO you can -
(i) chose to let the Hungarians carry out their historical charge
(ii) chose to let them defend the camp
(iii) either option can be supported by the arrival of John Zapolya's Transylvanians (variable arrival).
The Hungarian PO orders will be changed to reflect your choice.
The Hungarian player may chose to await the arrival of the Transylvanians, although to balance this out they will then be handicapped by giving the Turks an extra 100 Victory Points.
Depending upon which option is chosen the Turks may be allowed to unchain their guns and move them forward.
There are 20% shock penalties for the loss of your commander-in-chief or your baggage train (not cumulatively).
Victory Points are won by capturing the enemy's entrenchments and particularly the baggage train: given sixteenth century logistics the loss of the latter would enforce an immediate retreat. (The baggage trains are also the only sources of supply on the field). If the Hungarians choose to wait for John Zapolya the Turks get an extra 100 Victory Points, meaning that the Christians will probably need to attack to win.
Killing the enemy commander-in-chief = 50 Victory Points
Killing any other enemy leaders (3 per side) = 25 Victory Points
The game engine will calculate the usual points for killing other units.
There are more Victory Points located in the Hungarian camp than the Ottoman's: this reflects the fact that the latter were on the offensive, and were running out of supplies - they needed to beat the Hungarians and to clear a path to their capital. If the Hungarians can simply hold out, without bending history by calling in John Zapolya's reinforcements, it's effectively a victory for them.
I've tried to adjust the effectiveness of the various troops by a mixture of the squad types and their proficiencies, and by the type of orders in a game against the PO.
Using the XIXth Century database (see map for the address) allows the artillery, arquebusiers and foot archers to shoot from a distance.
Digging-in (the PO will do it, so you may as well) represents occupying a slight rise in the ground, enough to give a charge or defensive bonus.
Destroyed units (except for named leaders and the artillery) will reconstitute in their camp, representing routed units rallying.
If you enjoy this type of game as an alternative to the usual TOAW period, I've designed a similar game on the Battle of Fornovo, 1495, and Piero Falotti has done one on the Battle of Marignano, 1515.