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Battle of Ţuţora
Part of the Moldavian Magnate Wars and Polish-Ottoman War (1620–1621)
Cecora 1620 111.JPG
Death of Hetman Żółkiewski in the Battle of Cecora, by Walery Eljasz-Radzikowski
Date 17 September-7 October 1620
Location near Ţuţora and Prut river, Moldavia
Result Ottoman Victory
Belligerents
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth
Moldavia
Ottoman Empire
Crimean Khanate
Wallachia
Commanders
Stanisław Żółkiewski
Stanisław Koniecpolski Gaspar Graziani
Iskender Pasha
Khan Temir
Strength
~ 10,000 ~ 13,000 - 22,000
Casualties and losses
High Unknown

The Battle of Ţuţora (also known as Battle of Cecora) was a battle between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth (assisted by rebel rump of Moldavian troops) and Ottoman forces (backed by Nogais), fought from 17 September to 7 October 1620 in Moldavia, near the Prut river.

Prelude to battle

Because of the failure of Commonwealth diplomatic mission to Istanbul, and violations of the Treaty of Busza by both sides (as Cossacks and Tatars continued their raids across the borders), relations between the Ottomans and the Commonwealth plummeted in early 1620. Both sides began preparing for war, with neither being ready at the moment. The Ottomans planned for a war in 1621, while the Commonwealth Sejm denied most funds the hetmans had asked for. The Senate's secret council finally decided, convinced by the Habsburgs' representative, to send the Commonwealth forces in 1620 - even though many members of the Sejm thought that Polish forces were neither sufficient nor fully prepared. Hetman Stanisław Żólkiewski, who was by then over 70 years old (as Commonwealth policy didn't allow for a possibility of forced retirement from government offices such as that of hetman), foreseeing the coming confrontation with Ottoman Empire, decided to meet Turkish troops on foreign soil, Moldavia being the obvious choice1.

Hetmans Zółkiewski and Koniecpolski led the army to Ţuţora (Cecora in Polish sources), a commune in Iaşi county, Romania) to fight the Horde of Khan Temir (Kantymir). The army numbered over 10,000 (2,000 infantry and almost no Cossaks cavalry) with many regiments being made up of the private forces of magnates Koreckis, Zasławskis, Kazanowskis, Kalinowskis and Potockis. The army entered Moldavia in September. The Moldavian ruler, hospodar Gaspar Graziani, nominally vassal of the Ottoman Empire, decided to rebel and to support the Commonwealth against the Ottomans. Graziani killed janissaries in Iaşi, imprisoned envoys of Sultan Osman II (who had requested his deposal and escorting to Istanbul) and had wanted to flee, but, forced by Żółkiewski, joined his troops to the Polish camp. However, many of the Moldavian boyars dispersed in order to defend their own estates against pillaging by undisciplined Commonwealth magnates' troops, and others decided to wait for an outcome and join the winning side. In consequence, only a few hundred (600-1000) rebel Moldavian supporters appeared in the Commonwealth camp. Żółkiewski ordered the army to proceed to the fortified camp (standing from previous wars) at Cecora.

The battle

On the 10 September, near Ţuţora, the Commonwealth army encountered the Tatar and Ottoman forces, with Wallachian contingents (13,000-22,000) under the command of Iskender Pasha, the beylerbey of Oczakov (Ozi). This force had been sent by the Ottoman Sultan to help Gabriel Bethlen in his struggle against the Habsburgs. The Tatar force took Commonwealth defenders by surprise, taking many prisoners. During the first day of fight (the 18th), most of the rebel Moldavians decided to switch sides, and quickly attacked the Polish flank. Mercenaries, private troops and their magnate leaders, were lacking in discipline and morale. Stanisław Koniecpolski commanded the right flank of the Commonwealth forces during the ensuing battle. On 19 September, it had become clear that Polish forces were defeated, although still managing to hold their positions; Koniecpolski prevented the army from disintegrating on 20/21 September. On 29 September, Commonwealth forces had broken through Ottoman ranks with tabor wagon trains and started their retreat. However, after Graziani bribed some magnates, units of private troops begun to flee and some mercenary cavalry panicked and ran away. This was a prelude on things to come. Consecutive attacks during the retreat (such as the violent one on 3 October) were repelled, only for troops to start disintegrating as soon as soldiers caught sight of the Dniester and the Polish border.

During another large assault on the 6 October, most of the magnates and nobles started to flee north, leaving infantry and camp. Thus, they sealed the fate of the whole expedition: most of the Polish troops got killed or were captured. In the ensuing battle, Żólkiewski was killed and Koniecpolski and many others (Samuel Korecki, Mikolaj Struś, Mikołaj Potocki, Jan Żółkiewski, Łukasz Żołkiewski), Stanisław "Rewera" Potocki and Bohdan Khmelnytsky were taken captive. Żółkiewski's head was mounted on a pike and sent to the sultan; duke Korecki, having often meddled in Moldavian territories, was executed in the Istanbul prison.

In the face of such an important victory, advised by grand vizier Ali Pasha and Gabriel Bethlen, Osman II decided that he could reinforce his rule or even extend it. Alexandru Iliaş was appointed as the ruler of Moldavia, the rebel Graziani having been killed during his flight on 29 September.

Aftermath

In 1621, an army of 200,000 to 250,000 Turkish veterans, led by Osman II, advanced from Edirne towards the Polish frontier. The Turks, following their victory in the Battle of Cecora, had high hopes of conquering Ukraine - then part of Poland. The Polish commander Jan Karol Chodkiewicz crossed the Dniester in September 1621 with approximately 35,000 soldiers and Cossack supporters and entrenched the Khotyn Fortress, blocking the path of the Ottoman march, which was very slow. It was here that, for a whole month (2 September to 9 October), the Commonwealth hetman held the sultan at bay, up until the first autumn snow (Battle of Khotyn). The lateness of the season and the loss of approximately 40,000 of men compelled Osman II to ask for negotiations to begin. A few days before the siege was raised, the aged grand hetman died of exhaustion in the fortress on 24 September 1621. The battle was stalemate and the resulting Treaty of Khotyn reflected it, providing some concessions to the Commonwealth but meeting all the demands of the Ottomans.

Osman II blamed the stalemate of war on the lack of zeal and degeneracy of the janissaries. His modernisation efforts of the Ottoman army were not well received by the janissaries and conservative Learned class. A rebellion led by Janissaries and the students of madrasas arose on 18 May 1622 and Osman II was deposed and on 20 May he was killed by the rebels who gained power.

Notes

  1. There are several accounts that Żółkiewski was sent to relieve the Habsburgs from the very beginning. Iskender Pasha, during his talks with Żółkiewski at Ţuţora, confirmed that was sent to support Bethlen, not to fight the Commonwealth.

See also

Further reading

  • Podhorodecki, Leszek (1978). Stanisław Koniecpolski ok. 1592–1646. Wydawnictwo Ministerstwa Obrony Narodowej. ISBN B0000E946H, p. 65-100

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