Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/132

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Portugal promised subsidies, but it was on his brother-in-law Charles V that Louis depended. Charles sent reinforcements, but they came too late, two days after the decision of the campaign. The most competent general the Hungarians could have chosen would have been John Zapolya, the voivod of Transylvania, but he was not trusted. The command devolved upon Louis himself in default of a better man; and at the start want of money rendered it difficult to mobilise. It was decided to defend the line of the Save, but when it came to the point the lukewarmness of the magnates caused this plan to be abandoned. The only really energetic man in the land was Archbishop Tomory, who did what he could to make defensible Peterwardein, the chief fortress of the Danube between the mouths of the Drave and the Save.

The Sultan set out towards the end of April with an army of 100,000 and 300 cannons; and his diary chronicles the heavy rainfalls which made his advance painful and slow, so that he did not reach Belgrade till July 9, when he was joined by his infantry (the Janissaries) which had been transported up the Danube by a flotilla. Ibrahim, the Grand Vezir, had been sent forward to take Peterwardein, and it was in Turkish hands before the end of July. After the fall of this bulwark, a bloody sword was carried, according to custom, throughout the Hungarian land, summoning men to help their country in the hour of her utmost jeopardy. Zapolya was waiting uncertain what to do. Receiving a command from the King to join the army he obeyed slowly, but only reached Szegedin on the Theiss where he remained. There is not the least proof that he was acting in collusion with the Turk; the most that can be said is that he was secretly pleased at the embarrassing situation of King Louis. The Hungarian army advanced to Tolna, and all told they were perhaps fewer than 30,000. It was now a question whether the line of the Drave should be held; but while the Hungarians were deliberating, the Turks had crossed that river at Essek (August 20-21). The Chancellor Broderith gave the counsel to fall back to Buda, but messages from Tomory (at Neusatz) urged the King to give battle in the plain of Mohacs (south of Tolna) where he had taken up a position. On August 29 the Turks were known to be not far off, and the Hungarians spread out their two lines—a long thin line of foot in front, flanked by cavalry, and a rear line mainly of cavalry. The plan was that the foot should open the attack all along the line, and when their attack began to tell the horse should charge. In the afternoon the Rumelians who formed the vaward of the Turks became visible; they had no intention of fighting that day, and were about to camp. The Hungarian centre and left attacked and dispersed them; the cavalry then struck in, and rode forward stimulated by the first easy success. But nothing save a freak of chance could have averted the discomfiture of the Christian army; for the battle was controlled by no commander, and the divisions acted independently. The cavalry were beaten back by the