Let us commemorate the destructions made by Pasha Szejdi (Seidi) in the Hajdú towns of Hungary that began on 23 April 1660. The Hajdú towns were the settlements where the Hajdú warriors lived, enjoying collective nobility in exchange for their military services. The Hajdú towns are located between the Transylvanian Principality and the Kingdom of Hungary. You can read more about the Hajdú soldiers here:
When Prince Rákóczi II György of Transylvania angered the Sultan with his unsuccessful Polish campaign in 1657, the Sublime Porte decided to punish him for it. Rákóczi escaped but he had lost his entire army in Poland and his soldiers were captured by the Crimean Tatars. As he could not rise a new army just yet, it seemed not a very hard task to deal with him. The Sultan assigned Pasha Szejdi / Seidi of Buda castle in 1660 to remove Rákóczi from Transylvania`s throne by sending Szejdi against him with 60,000 soldiers and 60 cannons. The Crimean Tatars took part in the campaign, too. Here is more about his unlucky war:
During the Transylvanian war between 1658 and 1660, most of the Hajdú towns sided with Rákóczi in spite of the fact that he lost his throne. The Hajdús trusted Rákóczi and hoped he would defend them against the Ottoman Turks because the enemy was demanding the ceding of Borosjenő castle, and there were rumors about the occupation of Várad castle as well. The fall of Várad castle to the Turks would have sealed the fate of the Hajdú towns in Bihar County.
Prince Rhédey Ferenc (1657-58) and Prince Barcsay Ákos (1657-58)of Transylvania tried to save whatever they could to keep the Ottomans out of his country by diplomacy and money but the warriors of the Hajdú towns remained loyal to the ex-monarch, Prince Rákóczi II György because he was against the Turks. These were perhaps the darkest years of Transylvania and the Hajdú Region.
(Please, note that I use the Oriental name order for Hungarians where family names come first.) Here is more about Prince Barcsay:
The Hajdú towns received more threats from the Pasha of Buda who wanted them to quit supporting Rákóczi, though. Pasha Hussein of Eger castle sent a similar letter in January 1660 to them, he wrote it in the town of Szolnok. Yet, the Hungarian captains who were in charge of the Hajdú towns decided to resist and summoned the Hajdu soldiers to arms. At this point, 16,000 Janissaries were being assembled at Temesvár castle, and they had an additional 50,000 cavalrymen and sixty wall-breaching cannons. Pasha Szejdi received the order from the sultan that he should defeat Rákóczi once and for all when spring comes. As for the Hajdús, he had been ordered that they should be destroyed unless they swore fealty to Prince Barcsay.
In anticipation of the Ottoman assault, the noblemen of Várad castle suggested that the Hajdú soldiers and their family members should come and find shelter in Várad, bringing their valuables and animals, then they should make a military camp next to the castle. This would have increased the number of the castle’s garrison considerably. However, Captain Gyulai Ferenc of Várad castle was against this plan, saying that the Hajdús had just too many animals that could not have room among the walls. Instead of this, he summoned the Hajdú soldiers of Bihar County and took them to a camp while the captain of Kálló castle called the Hajdú warriors of Szabolcs County into another camp.
Szejdi Ahmed set out from Temesvár castle in the first part of April. Before it, he had sent a last letter to the Hajdú towns, offering them the option of submitting themselves to the sultan. However, Captain Gyulai refused it and the Hajdú captains remained on his side. Here, let me point out a difference between the Cossack and the Hajdú warriors: the Hajdús were of the Reformed faith and any cooperation with the Ottomans was unfathomable while many Cossacks were of the Muslim faith.
Only the Hortobágy River stood between the Ottoman and the Hajdú army in the middle of April. Seeing the enemy’s superior number, Gyulai summoned the Hajdú captains and officers. He told them that he would not be able to resist and could not defend them. The officers got upset but they had to accept the plan for withdrawal. Pasha Szejdi took advantage of this move and unleashed his raiding parties to burn and destroy the manly undefended Hajdú towns (the soldiers were with the army). Especially the Crimean Tatars were very good at plundering and taking slaves. According to the contemporary report of Szalárdi János, “the looting, burning Turks, Tatars, and Wallachians quickly overcame the poor running Hajdú and other Christians who were fleeing with their family and belongings. they cut down the strong men, enslave their wives and children, and take all of their properties. The town of Kaba has been turned into ash, and the same happened to Szoboszló.”
The Hajdú soldiers were coming to Hajdúszoboszló town and to Nádudvar but Gyulai Ferenc, the Captain of Várad castle didn`t join them because of the great numbers of the enemy. Finally, Hajdúszoboszló was defended only by the 250-300 Hajdú soldiers of Kecskeméthi Balázs who got into the fortified church of the settlement. They were ably to repel the first assault of the Janissaries but sadly, they were all killed after a short but fierce fight on 29 April. Pasha Szejdi stood on the Törökdomb Hill and watched how the Ottomans destroyed the city. They killed all men and took away the children and the women. There is a living habit in Hajdúszoboszló: they ring the bells on New Year`s Eve so as to commemorate the victims of the Ottoman wars.
The troops of Pasha Szejdi were killing and plundering on the way to Szeged and destroyed the area of Szilágyság and Bihar counties, wiping the settlements off in two weeks. This part of the Transtisza Region, the land between Royal Hungary, the Ottoman Lands, and Transylvania beyond the Tisza River has turned literally a wasteland. The inhabitants fled to castles or to the other bank of the Tisza. Those who were not so lucky were either killed or sold to slavery. The rate of the slaughter was intensified by the pasha’s offer who paid one silver Thaller for each severed head. Only Zsákavára Castle was able to defend itself successfully. In Debrecen, the Pasha had the leaders of the city tortured and made the town pay 100,000 Thallers which was a cruel sum. In that region, a silver Thaller was equal to a gold Forint.
The surviving Hajdú soldiers ran to Rákóczi to Transylvania or got into the castle of Várad. But Pasha Szejdi went on and utterly defeated the army of Rákóczi in the Battle of Szászfenes on 22 May. Rákóczi died of his head wound a few days later. It is clear, that his campaign against Poland and his anti-Ottoman politics contributed to the loss of tens of thousands of lives. You can read the details of the Battle of Szászfenes on my page:
The next target was Transylvania`s gate, (Nagy)Várad (Oradea). Its siege began on 13 July, with the combined troops of Pasha Szejdi and Pasha Ali. There were only 850 men in the castle instead of the usual 4-5,000 soldiers. The defenders were mostly unskilled students and peasants and burghers, led by Vice-Captain Balogh Máté and his subordinate, Rácz János. They had 69 cannons but they could not use them because of a lack of knowledge. The Habsburg king did not send them any help, although he could have done so because General De Souche was idly watching the siege not far away. (Later he was internationally accused of cowardice that he did not deserve.)
After a fierce fight, the defenders` number was decreased to 300 injured men who had to surrender the castle on 27 August.
Pasha Ali proved to be a noble enemy because he appreciated the heroic resistance of the defenders and let them and all their family members go. Even the equipment of the school and the machines of the printing house were allowed to leave unhindered.
The Turks made huge destruction in the town. The fall of Nagyvárad was the sign of the fall of Transylvania. The Ottomans destroyed the churches in the city, except the church of the palace. It was the time when the golden statues of the Hungarian kings were melted. They used their bronze to cast cannons for the Sultan. As Evlija Cselebi wrote it, the city was later rebuilt and many new mosques were built. Read more about the destruction of the bronze statue of Saint King László here:
The surviving Hajdú people moved to the Hajdú towns of Szabolcs County. With the fall of Várad castle, most of the Hajdú settlements of Bihar County went under the Ottoman occupation. Later, most of the Hajdú soldiers joined the anti-Habsburg fights of the rebel “kuruc” troops.
Source: Szibler Gábor
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