1575: the heroic last stand of the warriors of Fonyód castle
The fall of the Borderland castle of Fonyód at Lake Balaton, Hungary, and its heroic defenders’ last stand in 1575…
How fortunate we are that we have some of the names of the 34 Borderland warriors who decided to fight till the last man instead of getting captured and sold like slaves to the Ottomans. Let me begin this post with their names:
Kulcsár Péter (lieutenant)
Bornemissza Tamás (lieutenant)
Antony Vajda (cannon master)
Melus Márton (cannon master)
Nagy Gáspár (drummer)
Sergeants: (note: this rank came to use only in the 17th century in Hungary; these soldiers were kind of under-officers)
As for the 20 common soldiers, we do not have the names.
The siege took place on 3 August 1575 when the Turks took Fonyód Castle in Somogy county, Hungary. Fonyód was a small fort in the chain of castles going along the southern bank of Lake Balaton. It had repelled several attackers before, however small it was. But on this day, all the defenders were killed.
Lake Balaton has been an important frontier line and several smaller but significant castles were guarding it. Castles like Tihany, Szigliget, and Fonyód were among them. Fonyód used to be commanded by a famous Borderland warrior called Magyar Bálint but he perished in 1573, two years before Fonyód’s fall. The warriors of Fonyód had been proudly fighting against the outnumbering Ottoman forces, the Bey of Koppány Castle was a particularly formidable enemy. (My remark: the Turkish bey commanded over 500 Janissaries and 500 cavalrymen in Koppány.)
There had been countless clashes and fights: for example, Bey Natuf of Koppány launched a night attack against Fonyód Castle on 22 September 1555. There were only 25 defenders in the fort because the rest of the guards had gone out raiding. A bloody fight got developed but the defenders were able to beat the Turks back. However, this failure hasn’t discouraged the Bey of Koppány at all.
Soon, he returned and made a second attempt but it was unsuccessful again.
Both Hungarians and Turks have tried to surprise each other and it was not rare that their renowned warriors challenged each other to duels as well.
When Magyar Bálint was Fonyód’s captain, he received the following letter of challenge from a Turkish officer called Hazun from Buda Castle which began like this:
„My Friend and High Lord, my respected brother, we are sending our greetings and our throughout honorable recommendations. There has been an unevenness between us which we want to level with a weapon…”
At other times (August 1559), there were intensive raiding activities from both Turk and Hungarian sides between Fonyód and Koppány castles. As a result of this, many Hungarian warriors got killed and captured. Their commander, Magyar Bálint (Captain of Fonyód and Szigliget) sent a letter of complaint to the Agha of Koppány.
The Agha replied like this:
„We are also told by our Almighty Sultan as well as by his High Lord of the Pasha of Buda that we should respect the Truce and should not march out to anybody’s castle. Yet, if one finds ten, twenty, thirty-two, fifty enemy soldiers out in the field, one will beat them and it will not break the Truce between the Sultan and the Emperor. It has been always like this in the Borderland and the poor soldiers try to make the living because the payment is scarce during the Truce.”
We can find many heroic stands all along the castles of the 1,000-mile-long Borderland which served as breakwaters against the Ottoman conquest: the examples of Drégely Castle (1552) or Szigetvár Castle (1566) inspired the warriors of the Valiant Order to fight till the last man’s stand. Many of these valiant fights went unrecorded, though.
Source: Szerecz Miklós
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