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Battle of Khotyn
Part of the Moldavian Magnate Wars and Polish-Ottoman War (1620–1621)
Jan Karol Chodkiewicz in Chocim 1621.jpg
Battle of Khotyn, by Józef Brandt
Date 2 September – 9 October 1621
Location Near Khotyn, Moldavia
Result Stalemate[1]
Belligerents
Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth Ottoman Empire
Commanders
Grand Hetman Jan Karol Chodkiewicz
Regimentarz Stanisław Lubomirski
Crown Prince Władysław Waza
Ataman Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachny
Sultan Osman II
Grand Vizier Ohrili Hüseyin Pasha
Khan Temir
Canibek Giray
Strength
50,000-60,000[2]
~half Polish-Lithuanian army, Cossack army
100,000–200,000[2]
~quarter various allies
Casualties and losses
14,500 42,000

Battle of Khotyn (Chocim, in Turkish: Hotin Savasi) (2 September – 9 October 1621) was a battle between the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth army and an army of the Ottoman Empire. It was here that, for a whole month (2 September to 9 October), Commonwealth forces stopped the Ottoman advance into the Commonwealth. The commanding officer of Commonwealth forces Grand Hetman of Lithuania Jan Karol Chodkiewicz held the forces of Sultan Osman II at bay, up until the first autumn snow and in the end died at the battle lines. On 9 October, due to lateness of the season and after sustaining heavy losses in several assaults on the fortified Commonwealth lines, Ottomans abandoned the siege and the battle ended in a stalemate, which was reflected in a treaty which in some sections favored Ottomans and others the Commonwealth.

Contents

Prelude

From the end of the 16th century and the beginning of the 17th century, the magnates of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth intervened in the affairs of Moldavia, which was and had been since the conquest by Mehmed II in 15th century a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire. Additionally, the Ottomans were aggravated by the constant raids of Cossacks, then nominally subjects of the Commonwealth, across the border into Ottoman territories.

In the meantime, the Thirty Years' War was raging across Europe. The Commonwealth was relatively uninvolved in this war but the Polish king, Zygmunt III Waza, sent an elite and ruthless mercenary unit, the Lisowczycy, to aid his Habsburg allies. They defeated George I Rákóczi of Transylvania at the Battle of Humienne in 1619, and Gabriel Bethlen asked Sultan Osman II for aid. He agreed, and a large Ottoman army was gathered with the intent of a punitive invasion of the Commonwealth. In 20 September 1620 an Ottoman army under the command of the governor of Oczakov (Ozi) Iskender Pasha routed the Polish-Commonwealth army at the Battle of Ţuţora (Cecora on the Pruth) and sent Tatar raiders into southern Poland to gain vengeance for the years of Cossack depradations.[1] The campaign was suspended for the winter but, in 1621, both sides resumed hostilities.

In 1621, an army of 100,000 to 250,000 soldiers (sources vary), led by Osman II, advanced from Istanbul and Edirne in April, towards the Polish frontier. The Turks, following their victory in the Battle of Ţuţora, had high hopes of conquering Ukraine (then a part of Poland), and perhaps even toppling the Commonwealth entirely and reaching the Baltic Sea. Khan Temir of the Budjak Horde and Khan of Crimea, Canibek Giray. Approximately one quarter of Ottoman forces were composed of contingents from the Ottoman vassal states: Tatars, Moldavians and Wallachians soldiers. The Ottoman army had about 66 guns.

In Poland, meantime, the Sejm, shaken by the last years defeat, agreed to raise taxes and fund a larger army, as well as recruit a large number of Cossack allies. The Polish commander, Grand Lithuanian Hetman Jan Karol Chodkiewicz crossed the Dniester river in September 1621 with approximately 20,000 soldiers, joined by 10,000 led by the future king of Poland, then prince Władysław Waza. The Polish-Ukrainian-Lithuanian army numbered 30,000 (18,000 cavalry, 12,000 infantry) and further 25,000-30,000 Ukrainian Cossack army, led by ataman Petro Konashevych-Sahaidachny (mostly infantry). The Commonwealth army had about 50 guns.

The battle

Contemporary drawing of battle formations and defenses for battle of Chocim, 1621.
Khotyn Fortress, the centerpoint of defense.

The Polish-Lithuanian army arrived near Khotyn around 20 August and started entrenching itself near the Khotyn Fortress, blocking the path of the Ottoman march. The army, following a common Commonwealth defense when facing large Ottoman armies, employed deep defences by building separate field works in front of the camp's defences. These field works were designed to allow the use of cavalry counter attacks, especially crucial for the Commonwealth relying on its elite Ukrainian Cossacks and Polish Hussars. A semicircle of field fortifications was created, with the fortress behind them, and with borders on the Dniester river. The circle was divided into three sections: right, commanded by Hetman Chodkiewicz, central, commanded by Prince Władysław, and left, under Regimentarz Lubomirski. In addition, two fortified camps were set in front of the main defence line: the Cossack's and the mercenary's (the famous Lisowczycy unit).

On 27 August a Ukrainian Cossack cavalry detachment carried out a suicidal raid delaying the approaching Ottoman forces, taking down several times their number before being nearly annihilated. On 31 August Ottoman cavalry in turn struck at the Ukrainian Cossacks forces outside camp, trying without success to scatter them and cut them off from main Polish-Lithuanian forces. By 2 September, the main Ottoman army had arrived, and the siege began.

On 2 September the Ottomans tried to breach the unfinished Cossack camp, but Ukrainian Cossacks having received reinforcements from the Polish-Lithuanian army held. On 3 September, another Ottoman assault, directed at the Lubomirski's flank of the main fortifications, was stopped. On 4 September, the Ottomans again tried to overrun the Ukrainian Cossacks camp but failed, and a Commonwealth counterattack managed to destroy several Ottoman guns in the nearby positions. Thus the experienced Commonwealth forces were able to withstand the Ottoman assaults, because their forces contained too much cavalry and inexperienced artillery to be efficient. Two more Ottoman attacks failed on 7 September

Defending the Polish banner at Khotyn, Juliusz Kossak, 1892

After several costly assaults that failed in the first week of the siege, the Ottomans tried to take the Polish forces by cutting off their supplies and reinforcements, and waiting for them succumb to hunger and disease. A temporary bridge was raised by 14 September over the Dniester that allowed the Ottomans to stop the Commonwealth fortress from communicating via the river with another nearby fortress at Kamianets-Podilskyi Ukraine. It also allowed the Ottoman forces to shift some of their cannons to the other bank of the river and shell Commonwealth forces from the rear. Another Ottoman assault on the 15 September was defeated by the defenders.

Although the Polish defenders were weakened, the Ottomans failed to break their morale. But the defenders were running low on food and supplies. On September 24, 1621, a few days before the siege was lifted, the aged Grand Hetman died of exhaustion and illness in the camp. Chodkiewicz's second-in-command, Regimentarz Stanisław Lubomirski took command of the Polish camp from September 23, when the ailing hetman passed the command to him. On 25 September Lubomirski ordered his weakened forces to pull back and man a smaller, shorter, defensive line; the Ottomans tried another assault hoping for the defenders to be disorganized but again, they failed. Another, final, assault was stopped on the 28 September.

The lateness of the season, the deaths of approximately 40,000 of his men, the general exhaustion of the Ottoman army, and the fact that his large force was also running out of supplies, compelled Osman to accept the request of opposite side to start negotiations, even through the Polish-Lithuanian forces were almost out of their supplies (a legend states that by the end of the siege, the Commonwealth army was down to its last barrel of gunpowder).

Aftermath

The Death of Chodkiewicz, Franciszek Smuglewicz, 1806

A peace treaty, Treaty of Khotyn was signed, which reflected the indecisive nature of the battle. In some clauses it favored the Commonwealth; also Ottoman Empire gained what it wanted. There were no territorial changes; the Commonwealth-Ottoman border was confirmed to be the Dniester river, and the Commonwealth recognized Ottoman control over Moldavia. In the Commonwealth, and among the Ukrainian Cossacks, stopping of the huge Ottoman army was seen as a great victory. The Ottomans, on the other hand, gained Commonwealth recognition of their control over Moldavia. Also notably, Grand Hetman Chodkiewicz had died as a result of this battle. Sultan Osman himself was not satisfied and put the blame on the janissaries. Osman wanted to modernize the army, which he blamed for the defeat; his plans for modernization were, however, opposed by the traditional-minded janissaries, culminating in the rebellion of janissaries in 1622, in which Osman II was deposed and killed. [2]

Cultural impact

In the Polish Commonwealth, it was the largest battle at that point in its history and proclaimed as a great victory over the 'infidels'. One of the one-sided accounts of the battle comes from Wacław Potocki's Transakcja wojny chocimskiej (The Progress of the War of Chocim), written during the period 1669–1672. It was based on the less-known Commentariorum Chotinensis belli libri tres ("Commentary on the Chocim War in three volumes") (diary, published in 1646) by Jakub Sobieski and other sources, now lost.

On the Ottoman side, young Sultan Osman II declared publicly that the result of this battle was an Ottoman victory over the 'giaour'. When he returned to Istanbul on the 27th December 1621, he entered Istanbul with a victory procession and in the city there were 3 days and 3 nights of victory celebrations. [3] However, personally the young Sultan was very unsatisfied with the result and the behaviour of his household troops during the campaign and started taking measures to reform the Ottoman military which in May 1622 led to a great revolt in Istanbul of the Army, mederese students and merchants, at the end of which Sultan Osman II was deposed and killed by the leaders of the mob. [1] This tragic revolt and the tragic demise of the young Sultan (who was only 19 when he was killed) is one the most written about historical events by the Ottoman historians, Ottoman court literature and Ottoman popular literature. In the peoples' coffee houses in Istanbul (up to the end of 19. century) the public story tellers used to tell the tales, many in poetry form, of the exploits of Young Osman (including Khotin) and his tragic demise.[3]

Notes

  1. ^ a b c Shaw, S.J. (1976), History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey Vol.1 Empire of Ghazis,Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p.191
  2. ^ a b Sources vary. Most sources that are consulted give the number of Commonwealth forces at 30,000 total, and Ukrainian Cossack army at 25,000-40,000. The Ottoman army is commonly given as about 100,000, but some sources give much larger numbers up to 250,000 or even 500,000[1]. Even though Ottoman chroniclers (writing in Ottoman Turkish) exist that deal with this period and this war, these were not consulted because of language difficulties and no English or Polish or Ukranian documents exist directly referencing the Ottoman army. Those numbers are based on the contemporary sources (in these stated languages) stating that the "Ottoman army was very large and certainly much larger than the Commonwealth's one".
  3. ^ a b N. Sakaoglu (1999) Bu Mulkun Sultanlari (Sultans of This Realm), Istanbul:Oglak ISBN 975-329-299-6 p.224 (Turkish)

References

This article incorporates information from the revision as of 12 July 2007 of the equivalent article on the Polish Wikipedia.

External links

Further reading

  • Leszek Podhorodecki, Wojna chocimska 1621 roku, Wydawnictwo Literackie, 1979, ISBN 8308001467 (Polish)
  • Janusz Pajewski, Buńczuk i koncerz: z dziejów wojen polsko-tureckich, Wydawnictwo Poznańskie, Poznań 1997 (Polish)
  • Necdet Sakaoglu (1999) Bu Mulkun Sultanlari (Sultans of This Realm), Istanbul:Oglak ISBN 975-329-299-6 (Turkish)
  • Stanford. J. Shaw (1976), History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey Vol.1 Empire of Ghazis, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press ISBN 0-525-29163-1 pp. 191-2

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