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Giovanni Norbert Piccolomni

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Giovanni Norberto Piccolomni also known as Johann Norbert Piccolomni (Padua, 1650- Priština, 9 November 1689) was a Habsburg imperial general and soldier, known for making a major incursion into the territory of the Ottoman Empire and reached all the way to Skopje with the help of Serbs and Germans. [1] He died a hero on the battlefield in 1689.


Giovanni alias Johann was a member of the famous Tuscan Piccolomini family that gave birth to two popes, Pius II and Pius III [3], and many other celebrities, his younger cousin was the Imperial Field Marshal Ottavio Piccolomini. [1]

After a brilliant education, Piccolomini joined the Habsburg Imperial Army at a very young age. He participated in the War of the Holy League from 1683 to 1687. [1] He was especially prominent in the victorious Battle of Mohács on August 12, 1687, under the command of Duke Charles V of Lorraine. After the defeat of the Ottoman army near Nis on September 24, 1689, Piccolomini with 6000 soldiers attacked Serbia [2] and Kosovo, which he easily captured, after which he penetrated to Skopje. At the same time, the forces of the Holy League occupied parts of Bosnia, Serbia, and a good part of Albania. [1]

Unlike other Habsburg commanders, Piccolomini had exceptional diplomatic talent, which came to the fore in the way he treated the population of the conquered areas. He managed to encourage them (especially the Serbs) to rebel against the Ottomans and to accept the imperial army with sympathy. He came into close contact with the Patriarch of the Patriarchate of Peja, Arsenij Crnojević. Aware that he would not be able to keep these areas under his control for long, he began negotiations with the patriarch to relocate the rebel-corrupt Serb population to southern Hungary, where they would gain political and ecclesiastical autonomy. [1]

In the middle of the negotiations, Piccolomini died unexpectedly. After the death of the most capable general, there was a strong Ottoman counter-offensive, so that by the autumn of 1690, all the conquered areas south of the Sava, including Belgrade, fell back into Ottoman hands. [1]

Simultaneously with the Ottoman invasion, there was a Great Migration of Serbs, when about 30,000 families emigrated to Hungary (Vojvodina. [1]

See also[edit]


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