The Battle of Posada in 1331

9 November 1331, King Charles Robert of Hungary ran into an ambush and was decisively defeated by the Wallachian Voivode Besarab’s smaller army at the Battle of Posada in the Southern Carpathians.

“…he will drag the Voivode from his cottage, as would any driver his oxen or shepherd his sheep“ (unknown Hungarian chronicler before King Charles campaign to Walachia)

The Romantic Hungarian painter József Molnár’s (1821 – 1899) imagination of King Charles fleeing from the battlefield of Posada in 17th century’s hussar garb (1855)


When King Andrew III of Hungary died in 1301, the line of the Árpáds ended with him. Claiming their descent from Attila the Hun and determining the fortunes of the peoples from the Eastern foothills of the Alps to the Carpathians and south to the coast of the Adriatic Sea for 450 years, the Árpáds left a power vacuum that ended with a lot of border principalities, not primarily settled by Magyars, claiming their independence when King Charles Robert of the Capetian House of Anjou claimed the throne of Hungary in 1312. Basarab, Prince of the Vlachs, was one of them. Claiming the territory north of the Danube and south of the Danube, Wallachia, as well as Transylvania, Basarab was soon between the devil and the deep blue sea, with the Mongolian Golden Horde breathing down his neck from the North and the Hungarian king about to show his unruly vassal what was what. In 1330 a Hungarian army, personally led by King Charles, marched towards Basarab’s capital of Curtea de Arge
ș.



The ambush illustrated in the Vienna Illuminated Chronicle manuscript (after 1330)     



Charles reached the place without any difficulties, occupied it and found that Basarab and his men had withdrawn into the Carpathians. The Hungarians began a wild goose chase through one of the roughest terrains in Europe until they ran out of supplies. And since fighting in the mountains with the winter coming is generally a bad idea, Charles agreed to a ceasefire with Basarab and accepted guides to lead his army out of the Carpathians. That idea was even worse. They led the Hungarian army right into a trap prepared by the Vlachs. The exact location of the ensuing battle is unknown, it was probably in the steep valley of the river Olt in Transylvania where the 30.000 Hungarian knights, their rank and file and the baggage train were received all of a sudden by a hail of stones and trees arrows from all sides. The disaster had begun.

Basarab I in a contemporary depiction


King Charles and few of his men escaped, the king himself had to don dirty peasants’ clothing to flee unrecognised. The Vlach’s victory at Posada and Basarab’s alliance policy with the neighbouring Serbian and Bulgarian lords secured their independence for a few decades, but the pressure of the major powers in the regions, the Mongols, the Hungarians and the expanding Ottomans, was too strong in the long run. The Voivodes of Wallachia were forced to keep changing their allegiances for the next centuries to maintain at least a part of their independence. They did it more or less successfully and were never really a part of the empires struggling for dominance in the region but a crucible of influences into a unique synthesis. The dream of the Hungarian kings to expand their borders to the shores of the Black Sea ended at Posada,though.


And more on:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Posada