Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars between 1372-1699

13 November 1550: Brother György defeats his enemies

Brother György Martinuzzi (1482-1551)
After the death of King Szapolyai János in 1540, it was Brother György, one of the most trusted men of the deceased king who was practically running the Kingdom of (Eastern) Hungary. He was one of the authorized caretakers of the baby János Zsigmond, the son of Queen Isabella. On behalf of the baby king, it was Brother György who had to balance the power between the Habsburgs and Sultan Suleiman. It was all the more difficult because, after Szapolyai’s death, Habsburg Ferdinand immediately sent his troops to seize Buda castle. The imperials could not do it because Sultan Suleiman “saved” it for the baby king: Buda fell to the Ottomans in 1541 and Brother György could never forgive it to himself. If you want to read more about the fall of Buda, here is my dramatized writing about it:
Suleiman receiving Isabella and her son at Buda in 1541
It is needless to say that the relationship between the Queen and Brother György (the White Monk) was not very good. The priest was a talented politician and a good soldier at the same time. In fact, he was the statesman who laid down the foundation of the Principality of Transylvania. As it turned out, he made a secret treaty with Habsburg Ferdinand in 1549 that was signed in Nyírbátor.
In this, they agreed that the White Monk would cede Transylvania to Ferdinand if the king could aid him against the Ottomans. The Queen knew nothing of the treaty, she was having a good time in Déva castle.
Nyírbátor, the Báthory palace (Picture: Kocsis Kadosa)
However, upon hearing of the treaty, she took immediate action: she betrayed the secret treaty to the sultan. She didn’t know that the Turks had been informed about it by their spies. Suleiman sent a Csausz (an official envoy) who demanded from the Hungarian noblemen taking part on the Diet to be faithful to the Queen’s son, János Zsigmond, and do not obey Brother György. This demand emboldened the followers of Queen Isabella who began to organize a plot against the White Monk. These rebels were led by Petrovics Péter. The Hungarian Székely border guards began to join them, too. Queen Isabella hired soldiers and took herself to Gyulafehérvár (Alba Iulia) castle, the capital of Transylvania.
Queen Isabella (1519-1559)
Brother György was quick, too. He had the Székely leaders executed and broke down their uprising. In the meantime, Petrovics marched with his men from the Temesköz area into Transylvania. He took the castles of Csanád, Déva, Vízakna, and Alvinc. The troops of the Wallachian and the Moldavian voivodes set out, just like the soldiers of the Pasha of Buda. The White monk was surrounded by the enemy.

Brother György was able to summon a strong army and besieged Gyulafehérvár castle. The castle has been desperately defended for six weeks, though. finally, Queen Isabella surrendered it and she “has forgiven” the White Monk again. It was 22 October and the army of Pasha Kászim of Buda was already at Lippa castle, and the Moldavians broke in the Székely Land on 2 November, while the Wallachians were at the Vöröstorony Pass of the Carpathian Mountains.
Brother György Martinuzzi, the White Monk
Brother György summoned an armed assembly of the noblemen at Torda where he gave an order to the general mobilization of everybody who could wield a sword. By the beginning of November, his man, Captain Varkocs Tamás of Várad castle has taken back the castles along the Maros River and defeated the army of Petrovics. The Wallachians were defeated at Szeben (Sibiu) by the troops of Kendy János, while the vanguard of Pasha Ali was scattered at Déva castle by the army of Chief Comes Török János of Hunyad County. Then, Brother György took command of another army and he defeated the army of Voivode Ilie of Moldova on 13 November. the priest was mightily helped by the common Székely people. Here is more about the Székelys:
A mounted Hungarian Hussar from Transylvania, from the second part of the 16th century (Picture: Somogyi Győző)
Having heard of the White monk’s victories, Pasha Kászim was persuaded by Queen Isabella to return to Buda. then, she was weeping and pleading for the mercy of Brother György and accepted the terms of the Treaty of Nyírbátor on 30 November. Yet, the seed of hostility remained between them, and the White Monk had to defeat the Queen’s army the next year. Soon after this, he made her resign from the rule. During the summer of 1551, Brother György seemed to be the single leader of Transylvania.
The assassination of Brother György on 17 December 1551
 Source: Szibler Gábor

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