Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars between 1372-1699

30 April 1657 Batthyány Ádám’s raid at Zsámbék

The castle of Zsámbék (Source: Szöllősi Gábor www.varlexikon.hu)
It happened during the spring of 1657 that the soldiers of Batthyány Ádám and some Hussars came together from the Borderland castles of Hungary and attacked the area around the Castle of Zsámbék near Buda. This incident was a good example of the so-called “small war” that has been going on for generations on the 1,000-mile-long Hungarian Borderland. These endless clashes, raids, ambushes, counter-raids, counter attacks were the fights that saved western Europe against the Ottoman conquest, after all. It is no wonder, that the world’s best light cavalrymen, the Hussars were born in these struggles between the end of the 15th century and the 17th century. 
Batthyány Ádám
The ambush against the Turks was organized by Kösze Gyurkó. He was an infamous “pribék”, a renegade. Previously, he had served the Hungarians in Tata castle but he fled to the Turks in 1653. He “became a Turk”, it was treason and people like him were impaled as a punishment if they were caught. We know, that the Ottomans punished the traitors with similar harsh executions, they hanged them on enormous wooden hooks. We, Hungarians have two proverbs from this age that were born about them: “horogra akadt” means that a criminal got caught, while another proverb refers to impalement “ló*** a seggedbe”. The latter derives from the Turkish word for “lafasz” which was the name of the sharpened, wooden stakes. Anyway, being a “pribék” was not a rewarding job.
Zsámbék castle
However, there were a few exceptions: we know that there were Hungarian scribes who had to serve in the Ottoman army, they often acted as double agents and sent letters to Hungarian captains. As for Kösze Gyurkó, he was a lucky one because he received mercy for his treason a few years after his Turkish “adventure”. After this, he tried to prove his loyalty by all means. In doing so, he became one of the best cavalrymen of General Batthyány Ádám of the Trans Danubian Region.
The castle of Zsámbék became the Zichy palace (Photo: Szöllösi Gábor www.varlexikon.hu)
It was Kösze Gyurkó who came up with the idea of the raid against Zsámbék. Initially, they planned it for Saint George Day on 24 April 1657. It was the reason why he wrote a letter about it to Batthyány on 24 March. The captain liked his suggestion and they began to organize the raid, or let us call it an ambush. They were doing it in deep secret. We have to note that the Hungarian warriors in the Borderland castles relied on raids to make their living because their payment was late. They received it often six-ten months later, and they had to do something to prevent starvation. We have another proverb from this age: “Se pénz, se posztó” (There is no money, nor broad-cloth) because they received their pay in bad quality broad-cloth in 50%. 
Gold pieces from the 16th and 17th centuries, minted from materials mined in Nagybánya
The warriors came together in secret, avoiding any attention. They came from the castles of Győr, Tata, Veszprém, Pápa and Devecser, and Captain Batthyény added his 1,251 men, too. The cavalrymen of Nádasdy III Ferenc were there as well. There were altogether about 2,000 warriors. The “pribék” Kösze knew the Turks well, he had a key role in the action. (The name “Kösze” stands for “without beard” in the Turkish language.) According to the plan, his job was to entice the Ottomans into a trap near Tata castle, in the region of Grébics and Tömörd villages where the Hungarian soldiers were hiding.
a Hungarian Hussar from the 17th century
The “pribék” warned the leaders of the Hungarian units that they should arrive at the agreed location in full secret, the horses should be silent, and the soldiers should not eat or chat because it could cost them their life. Also, they must be strong and brave. However, the attack had to be delayed by a week because of the arrival of the Pasha of Buda. It was why the adventure took place on 30 April.
The soldiers of Batthyány arrived in the region in smaller units, and they were dwelling not in the same villages. They were so sure of the victory or let us say, dedicated that the Chief Captain took part in the raid, bringing along his two sons as well.
The ruins of the Abbey of Zsámbék (Photo: Civertan)
As it was planned, Kösze led a small unit of riders called “martalék” in front of the Turks: the name more or less stands for “bait” in the Hungarian language. He rode a red horse and wore a panther-skin coat on his back, and there were feathers in his hat. The Ottomans bit on the bait and ran after them. The chase began. Finally, everything has turned out according to the plan, and they had great success. They cut down all the Ottoman soldiers who served in the garrisons of Ercsi and Érd, and they killed 52 soldiers from Buda, 14 from Zsámbék, and 16 from Vál castles. Altogether about 100 Ottoman cavalrymen fell in the fight. Note, according to the Ottoman payrolls, 96% of their soldiers in Hungary were not Turkish at all, rather Albanians, Serbs, or other Soth Slavic people.
Hungarian reenactors: Turk-Hungarian fight
We do not know how many Hungarians died in this clash. Yet, the Ottomans were angered and took revenge as usual. We have several documents that mentioned that the Ottoman garrisons were planning a counter raid after this. The Hungarians were able to get a booty that was sold on an ad-hoc sale for 4,836 gold Forints and 31 Denarius. It was 73.4% of the total gain because we have to add the captives’ ransom that would arrive later. Batthyány bought items on the before mentioned sale, he spent 2,279 gold Forints and 29 silver Denarius. He purchased captives and horses, and spent only 45 Forints and 5 Denarius on weapons. As we can see, the aim of these raids was to collect prisoners of war for ransom.
Regarding the “beardless” Kösze, he remained in Batthyány’s service. We know that he had two horsemen under his command in the first part of 1658, then he had three in April, and four in May. He organized other raids in the future, everybody knew him on the Borderland. Batthyány seemed to have come to like him very much. When Batthyány died in 1659, Kösze was among his men in the funeral, he was carrying the gilded mace of his late siege lord.
 (Source: The Nádasdy Bandérium)

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