Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars between 1372-1699

1571, the last stand of Captain Thury György

Thury György is in the middle (the only contemporary drawing of him)
Thury was one of the greatest Hungarian Borderland warriors, a Hussar officer, and captain, allegedly the winner of 600 recorded duels. You can learn many details of his life from the song below. According to contemporary sources, he was a man who liked to live the life of a simple soldier, did not prefer pompous clothes, and often slept in the stall among the horses. He had great physical strength and was a tall man. The Ottomans were superstitiously afraid of him, and before they set out to raid the Hungarian countryside they prayed to Allah to avoid Thury György. It was not a safe thing to be in his proximity in a battle or siege. You can meet Thury in several articles I had written on my page. He was captain of Kanizsa castle, Palota castle, fought in the battle of Szalka, in the battle of Palást, and I wrote an article about his challenging letter…
The so-called “pallos” sword of Thury György

Thury György made his heroic last stand on 2 April 1571

There was a prize on his head, capturing him was the dream of each Ottoman warrior. Finally, he was snared in a trap by a Turkish raiding party near Kanizsa Castle at Orosztony in Zala County, Hungary. He had been made to believe by Ali, the Bey of Szigetvár Castle, his Ottoman enemy wanted to get converted back to the Christian faith, that’s why he set out with a too-small unit of 150 men when he heard the news of the Turkish raiding party. (Please, note that I use the Oriental name order for Hungarians where family names come first.)

Thury’s “pallos” in the museum of Kanizsa, being guarded by Hungarian reenactors

He did not know that Bey Ali had mobilized half of the Ottoman garrisons of the Trans-Danubian Region to catch him. Ali summoned 600 picked warriors from the castles of Fehérvár, Szigetváe, Koppány, and Pécs. He sent Agha Malkocs to plunder the countryside with a smaller unit. The Agha and his 300 riders ambushed Kopornak village and began the usual plundering and taking of slaves. Hearing of it, Thury and his 150 men rode out, and quickly pushed them back, freeing the captives at the same time. Then, he gave a chase and led his men after Agha Markocs (Malchus). He should not have done so.

Kanizsa in 1601

There was a narrow valley at Orosztorony where he ran into the trap. The terrain was very muddy, the half-melt snow was not good for fighting on. He was ambushed and surrounded by a five-fold bigger enemy. According to Takáts Sándor, the great researcher of Ottoman wars, it happened like this:

„…He found a numerous Turk raiding party between Rajk and Kiskomárom who were hiding in the forest. Thury’s soldiers have arrived in the meantime and a fierce fight began to develop. Many of the enemies have fallen when the Turkish officer of Szigetvár Castle, Malchus, ambushed them from a hidden place with more than 600 men. The battle took place in a narrow valley between two hills where the spring flood of the Sár Stream made the soil very damp. Here, the horse of the Chief Captain collapsed in a muddy and slippery place. Was it a lance thrust or a musket ball? Or just slipped?” (…)

The death of Thury György (19th-century painting)
“Thury jumped to his feet and was bravely defending himself while he managed to grab a horse that had run to him. He grabbed its reins and tried to jump on it. He failed in trying so and fell back to the ground. He was told to surrender. Hearing it, he threw away his helmet, indicating that he would not be captured alive. He was striking with his sword for a while but he was surrounded by the enemy. Finally, his men abandoned him and he remained on the ground because of an enormous saber cut on his head.” 
Hungarian reenactors (the Palotai Darabontok) commemorate Thury’s death at his statue, 2021
According to other sources, one of his faithful soldiers was also slain while trying to cut him out. We know that he killed many soldiers and horses but the enemy was cutting his legs and sinew. When he realized that he would be captured, he unbuckled his helmet and soon died. Surrender was an unknown term to him, he was a Knight of the Golden Spur. Here is more about this knightly order:
Lord Gyulaffy and Lord Thury, perhaps the greatest Hungarian knights of the Golden Spur (picture: Somogyi Győző)
Lord Zrínyi György (aka Jurij Zrinski) and his men were hurrying to help him but they were too late, they could salvage only his headless corpse. His body was buried by Zrínyi György and the whole country has mourned him.
Thury’s head was taken to Istanbul where it was buried with military respect given to the “Hungarian El Cid”. Allegedly, the enemy was afraid to touch his “pallos” sword, and they sent it to Vienna later by a Hungarian prisoner of war.
Here is more about Kanizsa Castle:

https://www.hungarianottomanwars.com/ottoman-occupied-lands/kanizsa/

 


Please, read my dramatized writing about him here, and enjoy the great duelist’s sense of humor about outsmarting the enemy:

https://www.hungarianottomanwars.com/dramatized-historical-writings/interview-with-captain-thury-gyorgy-1561/

Thury’s pallos
Also, here is a modern song by the Hungarian Canisha Band about Lord Thury György:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJatBVo5_Rk

I tried to translate the lyrics into English, here you are:

„I am telling you of György Thury,
he is the champion of Hungary,
he has never been defeated in a duel,
he is a fearsome Turk-beater…

He was born in 1519, in Hont County,
he was from Középtúr, a son of a noble family…

His valiance was recognized early,
in Ipolyság, in Ság-vidék, in 1544,
he became a hussar chief-lad (petty officer).

His star rose high by 1558, became
Léva castle`s captain, Chief Comes of Vas County…

I am telling you of György Thury,
he is the champion of Palota,
he has never been defeated in a duel,
he is a fearsome Turk-beater…

I am telling you of György Thury,
he is the champion of Palota,
he has never been defeated in a duel,
he is a fearsome Turk-beater…

He stood his ground on knightly tournaments,
on the coronation of King Miksa (Maximilian),
the Lion of Dunántúl (Trans Danubian Region)
went on raids against the Turks…

He held Palota castle in 1566
to the shame of Pasha Arslan,
his 500 fighting off 8,000…

Turk army surrounded it,
but they failed in taking it,

They tried to starve them out,
scourging them…
but Salm didn`t come to relieve the siege…

I am telling you of György Thury,
he is the champion of Palota,
he has never been defeated in a duel,
he is a fearsome Turk-beater…

I am telling you of György Thury,
he is the champion of Palota,
he has never been defeated in a duel,
he is a fearsome Turk-beater…

In 1567, chief commander of Kanizsa,
Chief captain of Dunántúl,
a Turk-flaying, famous tough warrior,

In 1571, he with his good 150 lads,
at Orosztorony he was trapped,
beheaded and excised…

His head was taken to Istanbul,
Sultan looked at it, was touched,
he took his grey beard in his hand,
had him buried in his court.

I am telling you of György Thury,
he is the champion of Kanizsa,
he has never been defeated in a duel,
he is a fearsome Turk-beater…

I am telling you of György Thury,
he is the champion of Palota,
he has never been defeated in a duel,
he is a fearsome Turk-beater…

Those whom he had been bringing up since their childhood,
carrying them through many good fortunes,
having turned in many things with them,
giving them a good name and reputation,

These have been weeping loudly,
not ceasing to mourn him day and night,
and they have all gone into hiding,
because the crown of their head had fallen…

I am telling you of György Thury,
he is the champion of Palota,
he has never been defeated in a duel,
he is a fearsome Turk-beater…

I am telling you of György Thury,
he is the champion of Kanizsa,
he has never been defeated in a duel,
he is a fearsome Turk-beater…” 

Source: Takáts Sándor, Konnát Árpád, Szibler Gábor

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