Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars

The Turks ambushed Pápa Castle after 23 October 1555

Pápa in 1597

No secrets could remain covered on the Borderland: the plans of the Ottoman ambush had been told to the Hungarian captains in September.

The Turk troops began to come together as early as 22 September.

Noticing it, Captain Ormányi Józsa of Sümeg Castle informed Palatine Nádasdy Tamás, writing him that the Turk garrison of Veszprém Castle had been reinforced with 60 riders.

Then, Bey Arszlán of (Székes)fehérvár ordered the peasants in the area to come to Fehérvár, bringing along tools, and horses or oxen for wagons. They were supposed to build the trenches for the siege of Pápa Castle.

Nádasdy gave the same order to the peasants around Pápa so as to reinforce the walls but his summons was ignored.

At this time, there were very few soldiers of the king guarding Pápa castle: there were 40 infantrymen from Győr, 10 from Veszprém along with 50 Bohemian guards. Luckily, there were the soldiers of Lord Török of Enying who were paid by their liege-lord. As for the local gentry, they took up arms and moved into the castle but went home after the compulsory 6 days of service.

The warriors of the Borderland were alarmed on 22 October 1555. The Turks attacked Pápa after 23 October. They gave out a terrible battle-cry at midnight and assaulted the gate called Borosgyőri or Szent László. Hearing it, the guards of the gate got frightened and fled.

It was Scribe Martonfalvy Imre who was in charge of the defense, appointed by his liege-lord Török Bálint. He galloped to the market of the town and shot his order to the soldiers who were standing there, they were the reserve. He sent them to the gate which was under attack. He cried: „Nobody must leave their places or will lose their heads and lose their reputation, fear nothing!”

At that age, among the soldiers of the Valiant Order, losing their reputation was worse than losing their head.

In the meantime, the attackers pulled down the timbers of the palisade around the gate. Scribe Martonfalvy rushed there first, grabbing an infantryman called Borosgyőri Péter by the collar of his coat with him. He gave him the order to shoot among the Turks who were pushing through the breach. The Ottomans returned the fire and shot Borosgyőri’s hand through.

Then, Martonfalvy hurried to the landsknechts who were being assembled in the Szent László Street and ordered them to run to defend the gate.

By this time, the Turks had even planted their flag on the wall over the gate.

The mercenaries heard the Scribe’s order but didn’t move. To make them move, it was the son of Török Bálint, the young Török Ferenc who rushed there. The landsknechts obeyed him and put their long lances into use. They quickly cleared the palisade.

A landsknecht with a lance

Scribe Martonfalvy was very satisfied with the mercenaries in his report. He wrote: „they were coming with us into the fight and were throwing the Turks out with their lances both from the palisade and from the trenches. It was the first time when I saw how the landsknechts were able to use their lances so effectively.”

The Ottomans made another attempt at the other part of the palisade but they were received by the dense rifle fire of the defenders.

„They left behind many dead bodies and ladders in the moat”, then they withdrew.

On the way home, the Ottomans destroyed the stately home and 25 houses of the village called Zsemlér.

Learning from the case, next year the king sent 100 infantrymen to Pápa, along with cannons, gunpowder, and balls. Tools were also provided and all the peasants of three counties (Veszprém, Vas, and Sopron counties) were ordered to work on the castle.

 The king must have realized how close Pápa was to Vienna so from now on he hired altogether 200 Hungarian warriors and 100 Hussars to guard the castle.

(Source: Szibler Gábor)

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