B bábi, Tibor

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Border Fortresses – Forts forming the last line of defense of Hungary in the Carpathian Basin. The fort of Buda fell into Turkish hands in 1541. At about the same time the military leadership in Vienna decided to build a 300- km long and approximately 100-km wide defense perimeter in a southwest-northeast direction throughout Western Hungary from the northern tip of the Adriatic Sea to about the center of present-day Slovakia. The aim of this defense perimeter was to protect Vienna from the expanding Ottoman Empire. This plan included the fortification or building of about 200 forts; and for this project the Viennese leadership employed about 150 Italian engineers. At the beginning the forts were defended and maintained by Hungarian noblemen and soldiers, e.g. Count Miklós (Nicholas) Zrinyi; but as the decades of Turkish occupation increased, mercenaries paid by the Viennese Court defended more and more forts. Often their pay was neglected and these soldiers started to rob the population of the countryside. This activity created additional pressure on the people already been robbed and ravished by the Turks. Hundred-and-fifty years of this type of life completely devastated this part of Hungary, while countries to the West of this perimeter were able to progress. At the beginning of the “Turkish menace” Hungary’s population was 4 million, the same as that of England or France at the time; at the end of this period only 2 million inhabitants remained in the devastated country. Nevertheless, this period provided a significant impact on the military history of Europe and influenced the cultural history of Hungary. – B: 1138, T: 7656→Zrinyi, Count Miklós; Border Fortress System.

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