Seminar in Ottoman and Turkish Studies
Abstract: On 25 October 1596, an Ottoman army engaged an imperial force on the plain of Mezőkeresztes (Trk. Haçova). On the second day, in disarray and routed, Ottoman forces rallied to drive the enemy back and win an unexpected, total victory. The battle went down in legend. Witnesses and later authors claimed that something wondrous had happened that day, something miraculous, and ranked it above even the great victories at Çaldıran (1514) and Mohács (1526). The outcome, they said, was clearly “no work of man (sun‘-ı beşer degildür).” This talk explores sources’ miraculous interpretations of Haçova. It draws on accounts from the 16th to 19th centuries to argue that the battle was a sort of protean event and to show how Haçova took on distinct “political theologies” over time, serving as a symbol for how groups within the elite thought about the polity and its relationship with the divine.