1567: the heroic defenders of Felsővadász castle

Felsővadász castle (By Cserna Károly)

The whole thing began as a “friendly help” but the outcome was the destruction made by the Crimean Tatars in Upper Hungary and the heroic defense of the Castle of Felsővadász…

The Coat of Arms of Felsővadász

It all happened in the middle of March of 1567 when Pasha Hasszán of Temesvár (Timisoara) and his 5,000 men, many Tatar warriors from the Crimean Peninsula among them, hurried to help the Transylvanian Prince János Zsigmond, the son of the Hungarian King Szapolyai János.

János Zsigmond, elected king of East Hungary

Let us remember that Hungary was split into three parts: Royal Hungary was ruled by the Habsburgs, East Hungary, and Transylvania was in the hands of János Zsigmond while the Ottoman Turks occupied the middle of the kingdom. Clashes happened each day.

The reason for the conflict was that the General of Emperor Habsburg Maximilian, a soldier called Lazarus Schwendi, the Chief Captain of Kassa (Kosice, Kaschau) had marched out and taken some debated lands on the Borderland between Royal Hungary and Transylvania.

General Schwendi

You can read more about General Schwendi here:


Schwendi stayed in Kassa because of the Pasha’s attack and let the Tatars destroy the land as they wished, collecting more than 40,000 slaves. Their ally, the Prince of Transylvania, János Zsigmond bought these slaves back from them at the Dike of Böszörmény.


Pasha Hasszán was fighting so successfully that he was taking the forts of Upper Hungary one by one: he took the castles of Lord Perényi Péter, a high lord who was siding with the Habsburgs. (Dédes and Putnok Castles.)

You can read more about Dédes castle here: https://www.hungarianottomanwars.com/ottoman-occupied-lands/dedes/

Then, he broke into Gömör county. Another of his units raided Monok and Iváncs and Felsővadász which was a domain of the Rákóczi family.

The defenders of the small Castle of Felsővadász fought valiantly but the Turks set the roof of their fort on fire. They sallied out from the top of the hill: they were just a handful of warriors but they all fell like the heroes of Szigetvár or Drégely castles before. Only two of them could escape. Let us commemorate those who fell there, even though we might never know their names.

Felsővadász (Photo:Hollofernyiges)

According to the contemporary records, this campaign of Pasha Hasszán of Temesvár has brought about really great damage and destruction, 12,000 people were herded into slavery only from this area and nobody counted the number of the slaughtered.

(Source: Szerecz Miklós)

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