1658: Prince György Rákóczi II defeated the Ottoman army

Prince Rákóczi György II

The Transylvanian prince’s campaign against Poland resulted in a retributive military action by the Sublime Porte.
At first, they declared the dethronement of Rákóczi and assigned Rhédey Ferenc in his place. (Note, I am using the Eastern name order for Hungarian names where the family names come first.) Yet, Rákóczi took back his throne in January 1658 which act was naturally not accepted by the Sultan. The Ottomans began to demand Rhédey cede the Castle of Borosjenő to them and this request was combined with a punitive war against Rákóczi.

Borosjenő castle (Photo: Gr33nPixelz-1)

The warriors in (Boros)Jenő Castle were supporting Rákóczi as it was he who guaranteed the defense of the castle. They received the news in May that the Pasha of Buda, Kenán Gurdzsi was getting ready to set out against Jenő Castle. This triggered the hostility between the Turks and the Hungarians along the Borderland between the Ottoman Occupied Lands of Hungary and Transylvania, mainly between the warriors of Jenő Castle and the Turk warriors of Gyula Castle. The soldiers of Várad Castle soon joined in.

At the end of May, the Pasha of Buda was near Lippa Castle and he was joined there by the Begler-Bey of Temesvár and by the Bey of Esztergom with 1,000 horsemen. Rákóczi’s reaction was to go to Bihar County to recruit more soldiers. In the meantime, the warriors of Jenő Castle ambushed the vanguard of the Turk army. There was a famous warrior among the Hungarians called Kádár István who was said to have slain three Turks at the same time; his deeds were even recorded in a historic song. During the fight, they also took several high-ranking Ottoman officers and executed them.

Prince Rákóczi heard the news of the enemy’s coming against Jenő Castle so he and his army set out towards Jenő Castle at the end of June from his camp of Jánosd. Finding no enemy at Jenő, he reinforced his army with the garrison of the castle and marched on towards Arad Castle to reach the enemy before soon. He wanted to divert the attention of the Pasha from Jenő Castle, too.
Having arrived at Arad Castle, he had the wooden palisade set on fire. Seeing the smoke, Pasha Kenán came out of Lippa Castle.

The two armies clashed near Lippa Castle, in the Pass of Pálülés.

Lippa, 17th century

Prince Rákóczi deployed 7,000 cavalrymen, 2,000 infantrymen, and 8 cannons in a wedge-shaped formation. The right wing was led by Captain Gyulai Ferenc of Várad Castle: he deployed the recruited infantrymen in the first line, commanded by Barkóczy István.

The Hajdú soldiers of Captain Szuhay Mátyás of Kálló Castle stood on the left wing. The artillery was led by a Scottish officer called András (Andrew) Gaudi. You can read more about Gaudi here:

The very edge of the right- and the left wing were manned by the mercenaries of Ebeni István and Bakos Gáspár, to fend off any attacks that might come from the sides.

The Ottoman cavalry was commanded by the Sanjak Bey of Esztergom and by the Pasha of Eger Castle. The middle was led by Pasha Kenán of Buda Castle, supported by the Janissaries and the artillery, along with 800 cavalrymen. Their primary goal was to hit Jenő Castle.
The troops of Kenán were situated in a bushy area, sheltered by some trenches and a ruined stone wall.

The fight broke out at 10 A.M. when the Ottoman vanguard launched an attack. It was beaten back by the Hungarian left-wing which launched a strong counter-attack that made the Turk right-wing flee. The same thing took place on the Hungarians’ right wing.
Yet, the fleeing Ottomans were stopped in the Pass of Pálülés where the Ottoman middle-ward was deployed. The runners turned back and a bloody fight developed.

It was the time when Ebeni István took over the main command and with the help of Gyulai, they tried to withdraw a bit of the Transylvanian army to make an order. The Janissaries saw this as a great opportunity to attack and under the cover of their cannons, they threw themselves at the Hungarians.
They were not aware of Gaudi’s cannons which were well-hidden in the forest, though. The cannons of the Scottish officer made a terrible carnage among the Janissaries.

The Hungarian troops ran down from the higher ground and surrounded them, then slaughtering the elite troops of the Pasha. Several thousand of them perished in a few hours. The Ottoman troops were all fleeing at about 4 P.M. towards Lippa Castle, led by Pasha Kenán.

The road between Pálülés and Lippa was covered by the corpses of 3,000 Ottoman soldiers but many of them died in the Maros river, too. The Pasha of Eger lost his life, likewise the Bey of Esztergom. Two hundred Turks were captured, and Pasha Haszán, the Tihaja of Buda was among them.
The Hungarians took three cannons and many wagons of food.

Allegedly, only 20 soldiers died from the Transylvanian army, including Lieutenant Forray János. Várallyai Lőrinc, the Protestant preacher of Rákóczi’s court held a church service after the battle whereas the entire army was eagerly singing Psalms to give thanks for the victory to God.

Then, the Hungarians intended to take advantage of the victory and appeared at Gyula Castle. Yet, they were not prepared to receive the attack of the coming main Ottoman army. So Prince Rákóczi sent the Borderland warriors back to their castles. Here you can read more about Borosjenő castle:


Unfortunately, the warriors of Jenő Castle didn’t pay heed to the Prince’s warning and there were only 350 soldiers in Jenő Castle when the Grand Vizier, Köprülü Mehmed arrived there at the end of August…

…a comment: “Thanks” to Prince Rákóczi, the Ottomans decimated Transylvania in the next three years, it was the period when the Hungarians were wiped out between Gyulafehérvár (Alba Iulia) and Arad…

(Source: Szibler Gábor)

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