1554: The Turks attack the castles of Tihany and Csobánc
The unsuccessful Turk assault against Csobánc Castle
Nádasdy Kristóf wrote in his letter of 3 November 1554 that the Turks had assaulted Csobánc, but fortunately, Captain Gyulafy László happened to be there and was able to defend the castle. (Gyulafy László was one of Hungary’s greatest duelists, but at the time he was serving at Pápa Castle. Despite his post in Pápa, Gyulaffy had to keep an eye on his estates in the Balaton highlands.
He did not have much income, but he did not let his soldiers starve. This was the reason why he asked Sir Nádasdy to pay his debt of 100 forints in wheat instead of gold because he was in need. He wrote the next letter to Palatine Nádasdy:
“Your Lordship knows well that during the time I was with you in the army in Transylvania (my note: he accompanied the Palatine in 1551), I served your Lordship gladly and faithfully. I shall remain your lordship’s willing servant whenever your lordship commands”. Here you can read more about the history of Csobánc Castle and see more pictures:
Gyulaffy had great difficulty paying his men with the king’s money. Nevertheless, Csobánc Castle had to be defended. It was his family’s property and he wanted to preserve it by all means, so he always watched it carefully. The Turks wanted to annoy him by disturbing the small castle of Csobánc and its surroundings. In fact, it was the usual part of Ottoman warfare: they burned the surrounding land and isolated the castles from the villages that fed the defenders.
According to Nádasdy Kristóf, the Turks besieged Csobánc in the first days of November 1554, writing:
“But, God willing, Gyulaffy László went home (to Csobánc) that evening, and Horváth Gáspár (the captain of Vázsonykő Castle) was also with him… (…) …and the Turks kept on attacking the castle, but they could not do any harm. Once they got in and took the head of the night watchman on the rampart, but somehow God allowed us to drive them out again…”. They, together with Castellan Bychs Ferenc, repulsed the attack.
However, with only a handful of defenders and the walls crumbling, beating them must have been a difficult task.
After a week of siege, the walls were indeed collapsing, as Gyulaffy reported on 11 November, saying that he had tried to support them with earth and wood. In this letter, he asked Nádasdy Tamás to send him 20 of the king’s guards.
The Ottoman attack against Tihany Castle
On the night of 7 November 1554, the Turks from Veszprém Castle suddenly attacked Tihany Castle, which guarded the northern shore of Lake Balaton. At that time it was not a peninsula but was completely surrounded by water.
They attacked it between midnight and 4 a.m. Captain Takaró Mihály of Tihany wrote the following in his letter to Palatine Nádasdy Tamás on 21 November:
“The Turks descended on me and attacked me for a whole hour, burning the whole land around here”.
Probably they tried to do the same to Csobánc Castle on the same day, as we have read earlier.
The fall of Vázsonykő (Nagyvázsony) Castle
While Captain Horváth Gáspár was helping to fight the Turks at Csobánc, his castle of Vázsonykő was left defenceless. The Turks ambushed it and took it. It is believed that Horváth’s letter to Nádasdy in January 1555 was related to this event. In it he asks for permission to fight a duel with a Turkish officer. It was the Turkish officer who challenged Horváth, but both the king and Nádasdy were against duels. In his letter, the captain of (Nagy)Vázsony made this plea to the Palatine:
“I beg Your Highness, as I would beg my Merciful Lord, please do not allow my honour to be degraded and humiliated in this way, because until now I have been respected and lived with a clean face among the Valiant Order of the soldiers. If someone were to throw this accusation in my face, that I did not dare to fight him, at that moment I would wish for my death instead of my life in this world”.
Horváth wanted Gyulaffy to be one of the judges in the duel. We do not know whether the duel took place or not. The stories described above were a common part of life in the Borderland between the 1420s and 1699.
Here is more about the Valiant Order of the 1,000-mile-long Hungarian-Croatian-Transylvanian Borderland:
(Sources: Szerecz Miklós and Szibler Gábor)
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