1705 – Rákóczi Uprising in Hungary
The campaign lasted from January to November 1705
On 9 January 1705, Colonel Glöckelsberg of the Imperial Army handed over the Castle of Szatmár to Simon Forgách against safe-conduct. Forgách went afterwards to Transylvania with 14,000 men.
Soon afterwards, the French Ingénieur Brigadier Damoiseaux joined the Kuruc forces commanded by Count Simon Forgách for the siege of Medgyes (present-day Mediaș/RO).
Meanwhile, Károlyi with his troops made a raid in Austria, reaching the suburbs of Vienna. FM Heister followed him with some Imperial cavalry. Daniel Esterházy for his part occupied Pösing (present-day Pezinok/SK), Modern (present-day Modrá/SK), and Sanct Georgen (present-day Sv. Jur/SK) and Bercsényi occupied Tyrnau (present-day Trnava/SK).
On 12 March 1705, Maréchal Pierre Pucho, Comte de Clinchamps and Marquis des Alleurs, who was on his way to Hungary since July 1704, finally arrived at Ráckóczy’s camp near Eger. He had been sent by Louis XIV to act as military adviswer and French diplomat at Ráckóczy’s headquarters. Des Alleurs was a poor choice, he was more than 70 years old, sullen and conceited. He did not speak German nor Latin and had to rely on interprets to communicate with Ráckóczy’s officers. He was accompanied by the Ingénieur Brigadier Le Maire.
In April, 4 French engineers, survivors of a shipwreck near the island of Chios, joined Ráckóczy’s Army. Overall, some 85 French officers joined the Kuruc Army during the insurrection. Four of them became brigadiers: de la Motte, Le Maire, Georges Chassant and Damoiseaux; nine became colonels: Charles Bonafous, Jean-Jacques Charrière, the Marquis d'Absac, Monti-Despignón, Louis Fierville d'Hérissy, Jean de la Rivière, the Baron Alexandre Vissenacque, Barsonville and the Comte Norwall. Among the lieutenants-colonels, there were the artilleryman Martin du Rhen, Du Prés and the Comte Rousseau; among the majors, Rochefort and Louis De Fer; among the captains, De Lisle, Sonnier, Duplessis, Charetrain, Munlon, Rotheville, De Mane and Maillard.
On 5 April, Emperor Leopold I died and Joseph I succeeded him. He followed the recommendations of Prince Eugène de Savoie and replaced FM Sigbert Heister by FM Louis Count Bannerot d'Herbéviller (sometime written Herbeville).
Rákóczi divided his army (75,000 men), assembled around Erlau (present-day Eger/HU), between Daniel Esterházy, who would operate on the left bank of the Danube; Ján Botyán, who would operate on the right bank of the Danube; and Bercsényi, who would advance on Neuhäusel (present-day Nové Zámky/SK). Meanwhile, Lászlo Ocskay operated along the Vág River (present-day Váh/SK) and occupied the Castle of Smolenitz (Smolenice/SK) where he seized large supplies destined for Trencsén and Leopoldstadt.
In June, Colonel Glöckelsberg surprised and defeated a rebel force led by Captain Botyán (by then completely blind) near Földvár.
For his part, FM Herbeville advanced with 15,000 men from Komorn (present-day Komárom/HU) to Leopoldstadt to supply the fortress. Rákóczi with 25,000 men resolved to stop Herbeville near Siladice and Horné Zelenice (in Slovakia, on the Váh River). Rákóczi's French engineers prepared some entrenchments equipped with guns. Herbeville managed to escape from this trap, thanks to the very bad coordination between rebel captains, and marched northwards along the Váh River. On his way, Herbeville demolished the Castle of Neustadtl (present-day Hlohovec/SK) owned by Count Simon Forgách and then proceeded towards Tyrnau.
On 10 August, the rebels, who were following up Herbeville's Corps, encamped near Cífer. Meanwhile, Herbeville encamped near the Castle of Bibersburg (present-day Červený Kameň/SK).
In the morning of 11 August, the rebel army (approx. 40,000 men) deployed in order of battle near the village of Budmerice. Rákóczi intended to adopt a defensive stance but General Bercsényi along with colonels Ocskay, Anton Esterházy, Michael Csáky and Ebeczky advised him to act offensively. Rákóczi reluctantly accepted. The Kurucs were defeated in the ensuing Battle of Budmeritz. The remains of the Kuruc army concentrated near Sempte (present-day Šintava/SK).
In September, the Hungarian Estates met at Szecsény (present-day Sečany/SK). High nobility wanted their old privileges to be guaranteed while lower nobility and representatives of the soldiers supported Rákóczi's efforts for increased centralisation and elected him as governor of the Federal Hungarian Estates. Rákóczi promised to protect all three accepted religions: the Catholics, Protestants and Calvinists.
While Hungarian nobility was assembled at Szecsény, FM Herbeville marched towards Transylvania.
On 4 November, Herbeville's Corps reached Székelyhid (present-day Săcuen/RO) and then proceeded in the direction of Szilágy-Somlyó (present-day Șimleu Silvaniei/RO).
On 8 November, Herbeville, who had by then reached Szilágy-Somlyó, was informed by peasants that Rákóczi's rebels (approx. 25,000 men) under the command of Count Forgách and Esterházy were encamped in fortified positions near Karika (present-day Creaca/RO). Herbeville decided to march to Schibo (present-day Jibou/RO). His patrols confirmed that the rebels were near Schibo.
On 9 November at daybreak, Herbeville resumed his advance by way of Varsolc (present-day Vârșolț/RO) to the village of Czigány (unidentified location), on the road to Schibo. He then deployed his army in order of battle and ordered his Serbian militia to plunder Zilah (present-day Zalău/RO). Rákóczi was now convinced that Herbeville's Army would try to move across the Karika Pass.
During the night of 9 to 10 November, the hitherto nice autumn weather changed abruptly and it rained all night.
On 10 November in the morning, Herbeville's Army resumed its advance towards Schibo. However the heavy rain soon made roads impassable. After a few hours, the army was forced to halt. In the afternoon the artillery and train finally reached Szilágy-Paptelek (present-day Popeni/RO). Herbeville sent his chief of staff, Petráss, to reconnoitre in the direction of Schibo. Petráss returned with 7 German mercenaries taken prisoners and reported that the entrenchments at Schibo were not yet completed and that they were manned by a single regiment of German mercenaries, while Rákóczi had taken position near the Karika Pass with the rest of his army. Herbeville was tempted to attack immediately but he feared that Rákóczi might already have sent reinforcements to the garrison of Schibo, which formed his right wing. Late in the afternoon, Herbeville arrived before Schibo with his grenadiers and cavalry, but he estimated that he could not storm the position with this small force. He decided encamp south of Schibo, near the village of Szamos (unidentified location). He took quarters in the village with his generals.
When Rákóczi realized that the Imperialists were advancing on Schibo instead of trying to force their way across the Karika Pass, he marched with his whole army towards Schibo, leaving only 2 bns to guard the entrenchments at the Karika Pass. He also sent a message to Károlyi, urging him to send the Sennyey Brigade through the Karika Pass to turn Herbeville's positions. Rákóczi’s Army reached the vicinity of Szamos late in the evening. Rákóczi could clearly see part of the left wing of Herbeville's Army which was anchored on the village of Szamos, but the rest of the army was hidden by wooded hills and it was impossible to assess its real strength.
During the night of November 10 to 11, the rest of Herbeville's exhausted infantry finally reached Schibo.
In the morning of 11 November, Herbeville deployed his corps in order of battle. In the afternoon, he defeated the Kurucs in the Battle of Schibo. The same day, Rabutin set off from Hermannstadt (present-day Sibiu/RO) to effect a junction with Herbeville's Army.
On 12 November, the Imperialists buried their dead and Count Schlick occupied Klausenburg (present-day Cluj/RO) with 5 sqns and the Serbian militia. Colonel Glöckelsberg was sent forward to Szamosújvár (present-day Gherla/RO) and Bethlen (present-day Beclean/RO) with 3 sqns to secure the northern passes leading into Transylvania. The same day in the evening, about half of Rákóczi’s Army had assembled at Szamosújvár.
Within the following days, Herbeville made himself master of all castles and small fortresses of Transylvania.
On 26 November, Herbeville effected a junction with Rabutin's Army at Gyulafehérvár (present-day Alba Iulia/RO) in Transylvania.
Afterwards, the Transylvanian Estates swore allegiance to the emperor at Hermannstadt.
Bánlaky, József: A Magyar Nemzet Hadtörténelme A zsibói csata 1705. november 11.-én.
Fessler, Dr. I. A.: Die Geschichte der Ungern, part IX. File 19. Leipzig 1825
Markó, Árpá: Les Soldats Français dans la Guerre d’Indépendace du Prince François II Rákóczi (1703-1711), pp. 269-274
Tibenský, Ján: Poctivá obec budmerická, Starodávna história, Budmerice 1998
Vojenské dejiny Slovenska, file II, Bratislava 1995
Harald Skala for the initial version of this article