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One of the earliest separately published maps of Croatia.

Rare early map of Croatia, published in 1593, published to commemorate a critical turning point in the Croation Wars with the Ottoman Turks.

Published to commemorate the battle successes of the Croatian and supporting armies against the Ottoman Turks in 1593, the map is focused on the topographical features of the region, identifying the major rivers and providing a general sense of the mountainous regions dividing the major rivers. A number of the major towns are also noted. The map was accompanied by a separate text explaining the large letters A through L, which can be found on the map, most of which are toward the bottom center (not present here).

Oriented with the Southwest at the top of the map, two sailing ships are shown on the Adriatic Coastline, naming the towns of Zeng (Senj), Ledenig (Ledenice), Bakar and the Habsburg port town of S. Veit (Rijeka).

At the bottom center of the map is the town of Zysck (Sisak), at the confluence of the Kupa and Sava Rivers, which was the site of perhaps the most important battle of 1593, one of the major turning points in the Croatian-Ottoman Wars.

The map was engraved by the famed Nuremberg engraver Johann (Hans) Siebmacher (1561-1611), who would gain fame as a Heraldic and ornamental pattern engraver, goldsmith and silversmith. His cartographic works include an important early view of Nuremberg. The map was published by J. Hoffmann, in Nuremberg, in 1593, with accompanying text ' incursionum Brevis Descriptio Turcicarum in Croatiam ... cum explicatione praecipuorum locorum tabulae Praesentis Chorographicae', 1592, found at the end of a text published by Hoffman in Nuremberg entitled Orationes duae accuratissimae D. Bessarionis Nicaeni Cardinalis olim ad Principes Italiae habitae, quarum una de periculis imminetibus propter Turcicas erpiones . . ., referenced in Hungarica -- Ungarn Betreffende im Auslande Gedrukte Bucher und Flugschiften by Graf Alexander Apponyi (1903), entry #535.

The Croatian-Ottoman Wars

The Ottoman Turks and the Croatians were at war for many years, ever since the Turks decided to expand the empire westward up the Balkans. The Croatians had allied themselves with the Hungarians, who at the time were the only major power in the region capable of holding off the Ottoman forces. The Croatian Kingdom suffered many major defeats but it remained in existence, keeping its identity, religion and culture under the Habsburg Monarchy.

Before 1593, the fight against the Ottoman Turks had been going on for hundreds of years in a push pull fashion between the two powers, known as the Croatian-Ottoman Wars. The long term trend was that the Ottoman Turks would generally add some hard fought territory to their empire. In 1593, the two powers were toward the end of The Hundred Years' Croatian-Ottoman War or the "Small War," the name given to the sequence of conflicts, mostly of relatively low-intensity skirmishes, raids and fights, which had been fought since the end of the 15th Century. This war ended when the advancement of the Ottoman Empire in Europe was stopped in 1593 at the Battle of Sisak. The ensuing battle resulted in a crushing defeat for the regional Ottoman forces, triggering the so called Long War.

The Battle of Sisak was fought on June 22, 1593, between Ottoman regional forces of Hasan Pasha Predojević, and a combined Christian army from the Habsburg lands, mostly made up of Croatians and Austrians. The battle took place at Sisak, in central Croatia, at the confluence of the rivers Sava and Kupa.

Earlier in 1591 and 1592, the Ottomans had two made two failed attempts to capture the Sisak fortress. The Sisak fortress was again besieged by a large Ottoman force on June 15, 1593. The garrison in Sisak was commanded by Blaž Đurak and Matija Fintić, both from the Archdiocese of Zagreb.

An army under the supreme command of the Styrian general Ruprecht von Eggenberg was quickly assembled to break the siege. The Croatian troops were led by the Ban of Croatia, Thomas Erdődy, and major forces from the Duchy of Carniola and the Duchy of Carinthia were led by Andreas von Auersperg.

In the spring of1593, the Ottomans had gathered a large army in Petrinja and on June 15, 1593, crossed the Kupa River and started the third attack on Sisak. The Ottoman force consisted of around 12,000-16.000 troops while Sisak was defended by at most 800 men. The town was under heavy artillery fire and a call for help was sent to the Croatian ban. Reinforcements led by Austrian Colonel-General Ruprecht von Eggenberg numbered around 4,000-5,000 cavalry and infantry and arrived near Sisak on June 21, making a surprise attack on the besieging Ottoman forces the next day.

On June 11, between 11 and 12 am, Erdődy and Auersperg's forces attacked Ottoman positions with the army of the Ban in front. The first assault was repulsed by Ottoman cavalry. Then the soldiers of Colonel Auersperg joined the attack followed by Eggenberg's, forcing the Ottomans back towards the Kupa River. The Ottoman army of Hasan Pasha Predojević was driven into a corner between the Rivers Odra and the Kupa, with the bridge across Kupa taken by soldiers from Karlovac. The Sisak garrison attacked the remaining Ottoman forces that were besieging Sisak.

Caught in the middle between two Christian army flanks, the Ottomans panicked and started a chaotic retreat, trying to swim across the Kupa River to reach their camp. The bulk of the army with most of the commanders were either slaughtered or drowned in the river including Hasan Predojević. Total Ottoman losses were around 8,000 killed or drowned. Christian army losses were light, a report submitted to Archduke Ernest on June 24, 1593, mentions only 40-50 casualties for his troops.

Sultan Murad III declared war on Emperor Rudolf II that same year, starting the Long War that was fought mainly in the same area. The war extended through the reign of Mehmed III and into that of Ahmed I. During the war the Ottomans finally managed to take Sisak, on August 24, 1593. The Ottomans exploited the absence of a large army near Sisak, which was defended by 100 soldiers. With strong cannon fire they managed to break through the walls and on August 30, 1593, the fortress surrendered. Sisak was liberated on August 11th 1594, when the Ottoman garrison fled and set the fortress on fire.

The Long War ended with the Peace of Zsitvatorok on November 11, 1606, marking the first sign of the suppression of Ottoman expansion into Central Europe and stabilization of the frontier for half a century.