29 August 1521

The Hungarian fortress of Belgrade surrendered to an Ottoman army under Sultan Suleiman I. Exactly 20 years later the Ottomans occupied Buda.


29 August 1526: Hungary suffers devastating defeat to Ottoman forces

Louis II is routed by Suleiman I at the battle of Mohács

For the people of Hungary, few dates have more tragic resonance than 29 August 1526, the day their nation’s army was defeated by the Ottomans.

For more than a century, the Ottomans had steadily been pushing north through the Balkans. But at the end of 1525 their sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, had received an additional incentive from the French. They needed military support against the Holy Roman Empire, and Suleiman was only too pleased to oblige.

The Ottoman army left Constantinople in April, and advanced along the banks of the Danube towards the town of Mohács, in southern Hungary, completely unopposed. In response, the 20-year-old Hungarian king, Louis II, mobilised some 30,000 men, but after years of civil strife and economic decline, he simply did not have the resources to sustain a bigger army.

By the time the Ottomans came into view at Mohács, it was obvious that the battle would be suicide for the defenders. Not only did the Ottomans have the advantage of numbers, but they had artillery and musketeers, whereas the Hungarians depended upon their old-fashioned heavily armoured knights. And although the fighting lasted all afternoon, the outcome was never really in doubt.

At sunset, the Hungarians had been completely smashed. King Louis fled the battlefield alive, but he was thrown by his horse into a river and drowned, weighed down by his armour. With him died much of the Hungarian nobility. The road to their capital, Buda, lay open. It was the most shattering defeat in their country’s history. | Written by Dominic Sandbrook

29 August 1619

Birth in Reims of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV’s minister of finance from 1665 to 1683. His cold, unemotional character earned him the nickname of ‘Le Nord’ – the north.

29 August 1842

In China, the Treaty of Nanking marks the end of the First Opium War, opening five treaty ports to British trade and handing over Hong Kong as a British colony.


29 August 1930

William Spooner, the popular Oxford don who gave his name to the spoonerism – the switching of consonants in a sentence – died, aged 86.

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