Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars

25 December 1545, the fall of Simontornya castle

Markocs Tamás was the captain of Simontornya, who regularly endangered the military road between Eszék (Osijek)-Mohács-Buda with his attacks from his castle. Ibrahim Pecsevi, the famous Ottoman historian and traveler noted:

“In the year 951 [March 1544 – March 1545] in the said castle [Simontornya] there was an evildoer Bey known as Thomas Markodzsi. He constantly sent out his vagrants to travelers coming from Buda, he did not stop doing harm and evil. He was attacked at the request of Bey Kassim of Mohács. ”

Simontornya castle (Photo: Gabor Lajos)

On April 4, 1545, the Sublime Port sent an order to the Pasha of Buda, the Beys of Mohács and Fehérvár, to attack the castles of Tolna with their united armies. Apparently, these local forces were in no hurry because they only launched the campaign in the autumn.

“In Simontornya, the castle was guarded by three hundred old (=experienced), seasoned knights, who were harassed daily by the Turks to give up the fort, and promised on behalf of their ruler that they would be able to leave freely with all their cattle and servants wherever they wanted. The captain, as soon as he saw that it was no longer possible to keep the castle, gave a great speech to his warriors, encouraging his own, and brought up many of the enemy’s transgressions.

Hungarian reenactors at Simontornya, 2019

He said that the Christian faith demands that they stand and die an honest death for the glory of Christ, and not that they give up the castle either to live in eternal disgrace or to be slaughtered down like foolish beasts. When he saw that his warriors had strengthened their hearts enough, holding some of them to himself, he released them from the castle, hoping to disperse the Turkish camp, or at least disrupt the enemy with unexpected fear, and free the castle from the siege.

The heroes fought bravely until, exhausted from the continual killing of the enemy and the multitude pouring around them, they were all cut to the ground. Bold in this victory, the Turks attacked the castle without delay. Losing hope, the captain opened the gates and sallied out in such a rush that wherever he turned, the enemy avoided him like lightning, thus cutting off the opponents, breaking through the main army of the Turks, and leaving unscathed.”

Reenactors commemorate the successful sally at Simontornya

The valiantly defended castle thus fell after the remaining defenders, like later Zrínyi Miklós aka Nikola Zrinski in 1566, ran out of the castle with the captain at the head. However, there was a major difference: they did not fall, but cut themselves through the besieging camp and escaped.

I’d add that there is not much we know about Markocs Tamás. (Note, I use the Eastern name order for Hungarians where family names come first.) It is for sure, that Simontornya is worth a visit, especially when the Castle Days of Simontornya are held. Then, you can take delight in one of the best reenacting demonstrations in Hungary.

Source: Szibler Gábor

You can read more about similar deeds of the Valiant Order of the Borderland here:

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