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 located in the Upper Hungary / Uhorsko / Horná zem, Felvidék. It is located in modern Slovakia, 15 km north of the modern Hungarian border. Szabatka is not to be confused with Szabadka (Суботица / Subotica), which used to be in the Southern Hungarian Plain (Délvidék) but is now in Serbia, 10 km from the southern border of modern Hungary. The fortress of Szabatka is also called Szabatkapuszta Castle.

Szabatka (photo: Rastislav Toth)

 Szabatka’s history

Szabatkapuszta is in Gömör County, next to the once-rich market town of Rimaszombat (Rimavská Sobota) on the River Rima. It used to be an important (mainly palisade) fortress built by Bohemian soldiers when Jan Giskra’s Hussites were called into Hungary by Queen Erzsébet in the 1440s. When King Matthias Corvinus recaptured the central part of Upper Hungary in 1459, the castle was also taken from them in 1460. The king ordered the palisade to be destroyed.

Szabatka by the Rima River (Tibor Fidrich)

It gained importance in the Ottoman period when the area became a war zone. The Turks captured it in 1553 and Bey Mehmed of Fülek Castle rebuilt it in 1555 by forcing the peasants of the area to build it. The palisade was built in the so-called “Hungarian way”, they built two rows of palisade and filled the gap between them with clay and earth. According to the Turkish payroll, in 1558 they had 32 janissaries in addition to the other defenders.

Szabatka (Hajdú István)

Szabatkapuszta became part of the sandjak of Fülek Castle. The Ottomans used this fortress for four decades as one of their northernmost bases to raid the area around the towns of Kassa (Kosice, Kaschau), Eger, and Szikszó. In 1566, King Ferdinand of Habsburg ordered General Lázár Schwendi to expel the notorious robber Bebek György from Upper Hungary. The German mercenaries took his castles one by one, among them the castles of Krasznahorka, Pelsőc, and Gombaszög. They also took the castle of Szádvár, despite the heroic defense of György Bebek’s widow, Palóchy Zsófia.

Szabatkapuszta’s area in our days

At that time the fortress of Szabatka was retaken from the Turks for a short time by the troops of Lázár Schwendi and Forgách Simon. They provided it with a royal garrison. The following year, the Turks of Fülek Castle, led by Hassan the Bey of Temesvár, attacked and captured Szabatka Castle. They were so happy and triumphant about regaining the fortress that they immediately made another raid on the Putnok area, where they plundered the land and destroyed Putnok Castle as well. The Ottomans took the castles of Ajnácskő and Várgede in 1571 and they also had Szabatka fortified.

The bush on the ruins of Szabatka (picture: Tibor Fidrich)

Now it would be worthwhile to save the ruins and at least launch a last-minute archaeological excavation on the site of the Szabatkapuszta castle, because small forts also deserve to be remembered. People died in them defending their homeland.

Szabatka in the Long War

At the beginning of the Fifteen Years’ War, the armies of the Trans-Tisza region were assembled under the leadership of the chief judge of the kingdom, Báthory István, 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 the counties of Nógrád and Hont, which were in Ottoman hands. The campaign lasted from the 14th of November to the 7th of December and was a great success.

The ruins of Szabatkapuszta; now, are agricultural areas (picture: Hajdú István)

First, they went to the palisaded castle of Szabatka and its siege took place between the 15th and 18th of November.
The defenders had only 250-400 men and the besiegers had about 12,000-16,000 men. The heavy cannonade broke through the palisade and the defenders had to enter the inner castle.
The Christians attacked in the early afternoon of 18 November and took it, slaughtering everyone. The castle was destroyed and never rebuilt.

They then moved on to the strongest castle in the area, Fülek Castle. The 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, also known as the 15 Years’ War, are told here based on the research of Szibler Gábor:


Source: Szibler Gábor 

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