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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Sunday 19 October 2014

The Long Turkish War

Soldiers and Weapons is a new series to me, published by TheSoldier Shop in Italian and English, splitting each page in half. The format is similar to Osprey, with plenty of illustrations and quality colour plates. I got my copy from Caliver Books.

No.24 is on the Long Turkish War 1593-1606. After a short introduction there are chapters on the Ottoman and Transylvanian armies as well as good description of the Austro-Hungarian forces on the military border. Military operations are in the final chapter covering the main actions and the small war that continued either side of formal operations.

The colour plates are excellent and cover all the main troop types. They include a plate of a Scottish infantryman belonging to a company based in Transylvania in 1596. This is a Balkan-Scottish link I was unaware of. It seems Stefan Bathory in Poland originally hired them. They served at the siege of Temesvar and then the garrisoned the Prince of Transylvania’s residence at Gyulafehervar. The uniform was similar to Scottish troops of the period.

Warlord Games have just released some Croat cavalry for the Thirty Years War, which would be fine for this period as well.

Somewhat tangentially, I dragged my beloved on Friday night to see the film ‘Dracula Untold’.  I had some modest hopes for this film as it at least appeared to be set in the correct historical context. The introduction was pretty accurate, describing the early years of Vlad Tepes. Sadly, as far as history goes that was it. The story disintegrated into a horror movie plot with Vlad doing a deal with a Vampire in return for superhuman powers to fight off the Ottomans, single-handed!

The portrayal of Wallachian/Transylvanian troops wasn’t too bad, but the Ottomans were too uniformed and disciplined. None the less it wasn’t a bad film and Luke Evans looked the part as Vlad. His interview at least shows that he understood the historical context and that the real Vlad is to this day regarded as a national hero in Rumania. Worth a look for entertainment value, even if not for the history.

1 comment:

  1. Oh! Wow! Thank you for this! How did you find out about this book?!

    I am desperately excited to hear that some of the Scottish mercenaries hired by Stephen Bathory later entered the service of his nephew Sigismund Bathory in Transylvania.

    1596? Does that mean there were Scots at the battle of Mezokeresztes?!

    On further investigation, it appears there is a two volume set from the same series on Ottoman-Polish Wars 1593 - 1699.

    Yes, that's right, start date of 1593, so this should include the Moldavian Magnate Wars and the 1621 Chotin war, as well as the Great Turkish War of 1683 - 1699.

    The price of these Osprey-style books is a bit steep at £20 a shot, but there is very little modern scholarship on the Long Turkish War of 1593 - 1606.

    Some of the best contemporary accounts are actually in Italian (the name Achille Tarducci immediately springs to mind), so this modern Italian author should have been able to make good use of that fact.

    Thanks again.

    About Scottish mercenaries:

    Have you ever seen the 'Military Illustrated' articles that Richard Brzezinski did on British mercenaries in Polish and Swedish service?

    They were published in 1986 / 1987 prior to his Osprey books and have a substantial amount of extra information, which is why he refers the reader to them in his Osprey books on Poland-Lithuania.

    'Military Illustrated' magazine went bust some years ago and the publisher who owns the copy right does not have any back issues from back in the mid 1980s when it started.

    Oh well, guess who managed to pick up the relevant issues off eBay? I had to have it as a search item for several months, but my patience paid off!