Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars

18 November 1593; The armies of the Upper Land take Szabatka


A few words about the Castle of Szabatka

In our days, Szabatka belongs to Rimaszombat (Rimavska Sobota) and it is in the Upper Lands of Hungary / Uhorsko / Horná zem, Felvidék. It is in modern Slovakia, 15 km north to the modern-day border of Hungary. Szabatka is not to be mistaken with Szabadka (Суботица / Subotica) that used to be in the Southern Hungarian Plain (Délvidék) but now it is Serbia, 10 km from modern Hungary’s southern border. Szabatka’s fortification is also referred to as Szabatkapuszta castle.

 Szabatka’s history

Szabatkapuszta is in Gömör County, right next to the once rich agricultural city of Rimaszombat (Rimavská Sobota) at the River Rima. It used to be an important (mainly palisade) fort, built by the Bohemian soldiers at the time when Jan Giskra’s Hussites were called into Hungary by Queen Erzsébet in the 1440s. When King Matthias Corvinus took back the central part of Upper Hungary in 1459, the castle was also taken from them in 1460. The king had the palisade destroyed then.

It gained importance in the Ottoman age when the area became a war-zone. The Turks got it in 1553 and Bey Mehmed of Fülek castle had the fort rebuilt by forcing the peasants of the area to build it up in 1555. The palisade was built in the so-called „Hungarian fashion”, they built two rows of the palisade and they filled the gap between them with clay and earth. According to the Turkish pay lists, they had 32 Janissaries beside the other defenders in 1558.

Szabatkapuszta became the part of the Sandjak of Fülek castle. The Ottomans had used this fort for four decades as one of their most northern basis to raid the area around the cities of Kassa (Kosice, Kaschau), Eger, and Szikszó. King Habsburg Ferdinand instructed General Lázár Schwendi in 1566 to drive out the infamous robber knight called Bebek György from Upper Hungary. The German mercenaries took his castles one by one, including the castles of Krasznahorka, Pelsőc, and Gombaszög. They took the castle of Szádvár as well, despite its heroic defense by the widow of Bebek György, Palóchy Zsófia.

This was the time when the fort of Szabatka was taken back from the Turks for a short period by the troops of Lázár Schwendi and Forgách Simon. They supplied it with a garrison of the king. Next year the Turks of Fülek castle, led by Bey Hassan of Temesvár, attacked Szabatka castle and took it. He used to be its captain before and they were so happy and triumphant for regaining the fort that they made another raid immediately against the area of Putnok where they pillaged the land and destroyed Putnok castle, too. The Ottomans took the castles of Ajnácskő and Várgede in 1571 and they had Szabatka reinforced, too.

Now, it would be worth salvaging the ruins and launch at least a last-minute archeological excavation on the area of Szabatkapuszta castle for small forts also deserve to be remembered. People died in them, defending their Homeland.

Szabatka in the Long War

At the beginning of the 15-Year-War, the armies assembled and led by Chief Judge of the Kingdom, Báthory István from the Trans-Tisza River Region and led by Christoph Teuffenbach, the Chief Captain of Upper Hungary. The troops consisted of many noblemen from the north and they set out against the castles in Nógrád County and in Hont County which were in Ottoman hands. The campaign lasted from 14 November to 7 December and has brought significant success.

First, they went to the palisade castle of Szabatka and its siege took place between 15-18 November.
The defenders had only 250-400 men and the besiegers had apr. 12,000-16,000 troops. Due to the heavy cannonade, the palisade was breached and the defenders had to get into the inner castle.
The Christians attacked it in the early afternoon of 18 November and took it, slaughtering everybody. The castle was destroyed and never rebuilt.

Then, they went to the strongest castle in the area, to Fülek Castle. Its siege began on 19 November and the castle fell on 27 November. Here is more about Fülek castle:

The taking of Fülek castle in 1593

The events of the Long War aka 15-Year-War, based on Szibler Gábor’s research are being told here:

Source: Szibler Gábor 

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