Zoltán Péter Bagi
The Life of Soldiers during the Long Turkish War (1593–1606)
This study is concerned with the everyday lives, survival strategies, and social composition of the German armed forces who served in the border fortresses and field units of the Imperial and Royal Army during the wars against the Ottoman Empire that were fought on the territory of the Kingdom of Hungary in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. This study shows that these troops enlisted to escape poverty and starvation, sometimes serving without weapons, and that their families often followed them onto Hungarian battlefields. As the rich source materials analyzed here demonstrate, however, their new positions confronted them with even greater challenges than they had faced previously, including the day-to-day threat of mortality, epidemics, the vicissitudes of the weather, and the constant deprivations caused by idle mercenaries. They strove to support themselves through fraud and deceit, as well as by forcefully plundering their surroundings; nonetheless, volunteering for military service did not provide them with a permanent solution to the problem of earning a living.
Keywords: Long Turkish War, German-speaking military in the Kingdom of Hungary, survival strategies, subsistence