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Battle of Zenta

Battle of Zenta
(Battle of Senta)
Part of Great Turkish War
Ottoman-Habsburg wars
A zentai csata Eisenhut Ferenc képe.jpg
Franz Eisenhut: The Battle of Zenta
Date11 September 1697
Result Decisive Holy League victory[4]

Holy League

Fictitious Ottoman flag 2.svg Ottoman Empire

Commanders and leaders
Prince Eugene of Savoy Sultan Mustafa II
Elmas Mehmed Pasha 
Emeric Thököly
34,000 infantry[5]
16,000 cavalry[5]
60 guns[6]
100,000 men[7][a]
200 guns[6]
Casualties and losses
429 men killed
1,598 wounded[9]
30,000 men killed, wounded or drowned[7][10][b]

The Battle of Zenta (also known as the Battle of Senta), was fought on 11 September 1697, near Zenta, Ottoman empire (today Senta, Serbia), between Ottoman and Holy League armies during the Great Turkish War. The battle was a major engagement of the war, and it saw the Ottomans suffer an overwhelming defeat by an Imperial force only one third as large under Prince Eugene of Savoy.

In 1697 a last major Turkish attempt to conquer Hungary was made, Sultan Mustafa II personally led the invasion force. In a surprise attack, Habsburg Imperial forces engaged the Turkish army while it was halfway through crossing the Tisza (Theiß, Tisa) river. The Habsburg forces inflicted thousands of casualties, including the Grand Vizier, dispersed the remainder, captured the Ottoman treasury and the Seal of the Empire which had never been captured before.

As an immediate consequence, the Ottoman Empire lost control over the Banat, Eugene followed up this great victory by raiding into Bosnia to sack Sarajevo. The scale of the defeat forced the Ottoman Empire into the Treaty of Karlowitz (1699) ceding Croatia, Hungary, Transylvania, and Slovenia to Austria. Zenta was one of the Ottoman Empire's greatest defeats and ultimately signaled the end of Ottoman dominance in Europe.[12]


After the relief of the Habsburg capital in the Battle of Vienna of 1683, Austria enjoyed great success and by 1688 Belgrade and most of the Pannonian Plain was occupied by the Habsburgs. But as the war with the French demanded more troops, and the new grand vizier reorganized and reinvigorated the Ottoman Army, the success ended. Belgrade was recaptured by the Ottomans in 1690 and the following year’s campaign was relatively indecisive after the Habsburg army failed in the second siege of Belgrade (1694). Subsequently, the Ottoman army commanded by Sultan Mustafa II won three consecutive victories at the Battle of Lugos (1695), Battle of Ulaş (1696), and Battle of Cenei (1696) while the Venetians lost Chios (1695).[13]

In 1697, the Sultan took personal command of the Ottoman forces and launched a massive invasion of Hungary with 100,000 men leaving from Belgrade, planning to besiege Szeged.[13]


Opening manoeuvres

On 5 July 1697, in the newly conquered Pannonian Plain, Prince Eugene of Savoy, a young French prince who had distinguished himself in battle, was appointed commander in chief by Emperor Leopold,.[4] His army consisted of 70,000 men with only 35,000 were ready for battle. As the war chest was empty, Eugene borrowed money in order to pay wages and to create a working medical service. He requested that rations ammunition and equipment be brought up to the level of an army of 50,000.

The Habsburg Army consisted of German, Austrian, and Hungarian infantry and cavalry forces (approx. 7,000 soldiers).[2][page needed] Thanks to Palatine Paul Eszterházy, the Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary contributed to Ottoman-Habsburg wars with 20,000 soldiers.[14][page needed] Serb light cavalry and Serbian Militia conscripts also took part in the coalition, notably Vice-Voivode Jovan Monasterlija with his 1000 infantry and 700 cavalry soldiers.[3]

There were few Hungarian Kuruc cavalries in the Ottoman army under Imre Thököly, however, most of them fought alongside the Austrians.[citation needed] Thököly was in charge of the Ottoman cavalry in battle.[15][page needed] Prince Eugene sent men north to deal with the Hungarian rebels while concentrated and rebuilding the remainder of the army.[16]

When news arrived that the Sultan and his army were in Belgrade, Eugene decided to concentrate all his available troops from Upper Hungary and Transylvania and started to move his troops towards Petrovaradin, on the Danube, upriver from Belgrade. After the concentration took place, Eugene's forces numbered about fifty thousand to face the Ottomans. On 18 July, in the village of Kolut, Eugene held a military review of his forces. Soon he left with forces to Petrovaradin via Sombor.[17] During August, Eugene offered battle in the neighborhood of the fortress of Petrovaradin but the Ottomans, attempting to start a siege, refused to engage in battle. In September the Ottomans moved north in an attempt to capture the fortress of Szeged, as the sultan moved north, Eugene marched the Imperial army south from Petrovaradin.[16]

The battle

Battle of Zenta. Map from the 17th century.

On 11 September 1697, the Ottoman army began to ford the river Tisza near Zenta, unaware that the Imperial Army was nearby. Captain Jovan Popović Tekelija, commander of the Serbian Militia, who was monitoring the advances of the Ottomans, immediately informed Prince Eugene, Tekelija then led the Imperial army over swamps and bog to the rear of the Turks encampment.[3] Two hours before sunset, the arrival of the Habsburg army’s Imperial army shocked the Ottoman forces as they were still in the process of crossing the river.[8]

Sultan Mustafa, his baggage, and the artillery were on the Temeşvar bank while most of the infantry was still with the Grand Vizier on the other bank. As the light was starting to fail the entire Habsburg force, with cavalry on each side and the infantry in the middle, launched an all-out assault from the rear, on the protected bridgehead.[16] The left flank of the Imperial army penetrated between the Ottoman left and the bridge, trapping them against the river. At the same time, Imperial forces attacked from the front and, after engaging in close-quarter fighting, broke through the trenches surrounding the Ottoman camp.[18] Imperial Dragoon regiments dismounted and proceeded to the moat encircling and engaging the Ottoman camp. Ottoman troops behind the entrenchments retreated in confusion to the bridge, which was now overcrowded, heavily bombarded, and soon collapsed.

Thrown into disorder, the trapped Ottoman troops fell into chaos with thousands falling into the river, Austrian artillery devastated the surviving Ottomans as they tried to escape. The Sultan watched helplessly from the other side,[c] before he realized that he had no choice but abandon his army and retreat. Escorted by a cavalry detachment and accompanied by his tutor and mentor since childhood Sheikh-ul-Islam Feyzullah Efendi, Mustafa set off for Temeşvar, without stopping along the way, only taking what horses could carry.[8] When the Habsburg army reached the far bank they found that the sultan had left behind him 87 cannons, 9000 baggage carts, 6000 camels and 15,000 oxen.[16] In addition, the Austrians found the Ottoman royal treasure chest, containing three million piastres and the state seal of the Ottoman Empire which had never been captured by an enemy before.[12]

In total 30,000 Turks died including the grand vizier, killed on the battlefield by mutinous Janissaries, and many of the most senior figures in the Ottoman military-administrative establishment,[8] while the Holy League suffered 429 casualties.[13][19] The great difference in casualties was partly due to cannon technology which, unlike the Ottomans, the Austrians had improved to a great extent.[20]


The battle resulted in a spectacular victory for Austria; The main Ottoman army was scattered and the Austrians gained complete freedom of action in Bosnia, where Sarajevo was sacked after Eugene mounted a raid with six thousand cavalry, plundering and burning the city to the ground.

After fourteen years of war, the battle at Senta proved to be the catalyst for peace, in early 1699 mediators of both sides started peace negotiations in Sremski Karlovci. By the terms of the Treaty of Karlowitz, signed near Belgrade on 26 January 1699, Austria gained control of Hungary (except for the Banat of Temesvar and a small area of Eastern Slavonia), Transylvania, Croatia and Slavonia; The returned territories were partly reintegrated into the Kingdom of Hungary, and partly organized as separate entities within the Habsburg Monarchy such as the Principality of Transylvania, and the Military Frontier. The Turks kept Belgrade and Serbia. The victory ultimately signaled the end of Ottoman dominance in Europe.[12]

See also


  1. ^ as reported by Caroline Finkel, Ottoman historian, Mehmed Ağa distrusted the Grand Vizier and accused him of exaggerating the size of the army in order to mislead the Sultan, Ağa claimed that in the two previous years, the numbers had been closer to 50,000.[8]
  2. ^ according to Erhan Afyoncu, rector of the military university in Istanbul, 7,000-8,000 Ottomans died[11]
  3. ^ as documented by Ottoman historian, Mehmed Ağa[8]



  1. ^ Liptai 1984.
  2. ^ a b Pach 1985.
  3. ^ a b c Samardžić & Duškov 1993, p. 50.
  4. ^ a b Kann 1974, p. 67.
  5. ^ a b Parker, p. 538.
  6. ^ a b Chandler 1990, p. 150.
  7. ^ a b Faroqhi, p. 97.
  8. ^ a b c d e Finkel 2012, p. 906-908.
  9. ^ Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Kriegsarchiv 1878, p. 156.
  10. ^ Clodfelter 2008, p. 59.
  11. ^ TDV İslâm Ansiklopedisi.
  12. ^ a b c Robinson 2018, p. 123.
  13. ^ a b c Sandler 2002, p. 985.
  14. ^ Kft.
  15. ^ Markó 2006.
  16. ^ a b c d Wheatcroft 2009, p. 230-231.
  17. ^
  18. ^ Grant 2017, p. 388.
  19. ^ Tucker 2010, p. 676.
  20. ^ Çiçek et al. 2000, p. 21.



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