March 1562 The Battle of Hadad

Hungarians vs. Hungarians: the army of Royal Hungary defeated the Transylvanians at Hadad 
Hadad castle (by Soós Elemér)
King Habsburg Ferdinand ruled Transylvania only between 1551 and 1556. His reign was finished when Queen Isabella and her son, János Zsigmond returned from Poland. Isabella took control over the Eastern parts of Hungary, and she reigned there until her death in 1559. Many people were upset because of her strong-handed rule, and the Hungarian Székely border guard warriors were among them because they had to pay taxes, too. It was against their traditional privileges. King Ferdinand took advantage of this unrest because he didn’t want to lose Transylvania for good. After Isabella’s death, the 19-year-old János Zsigmond sat on the throne. 
The “Hungaries” in 1550 (Royal Hungary; Eastern Hungary aka Transylvania; Ottoman Lands)
The bloody period called Dual Kingship was weakening and devastating Hungary because King Habsburg Ferdinand wanted to have the whole country, regardless of the Ottoman peril. The fight took a new turn in 1561 when Lord Balassa Menyhárt suddenly sided with Ferdinand. Balassa was controlling the Trans-Tisza River Region, and he joined forces with Zay Ferenc, Chief Captain of Upper Hungary at the beginning of 1562. They launched a campaign against Transylvania. Soon, they took the castles of Olcsva and Kovászó and seized the important towns of Nagybánya, Szatmár, and Németi. You can read more about Lord Balassa here:
Balassa succeeded in convincing Sulyok György, the captain of Hadad castle to side with King Ferdinand. At the same time, he tried to conquer the Partium Region between Transylvania and Royal Hungary. He also attempted to instigate the Székelys to rebel against the young János Zsigmond. (Please, note that I use the Oriental name order for Hungarian names.)
The tombstone of Balassa Menyhárt
Of course, János Zsigmond was not idle, either. He sent an army, led by Németi Ferenc and Báthori István against the intruders. (Note, it was Báthori who became king of Poland later.) They took the Transylvanian domains of Balassa, then they made Hadad castle surrender at the end of February. They did so to prevent the army of Balassa from marching in Transylvania. Here is more about Lord Németi’s life:

The statue of Némethi Ferenc in Tokaj

Balassa had to engage in a battle against the twice-larger Transylvanian army because he knew that János Zsigmond was also approaching with more soldiers. Also, the Ottoman allies of János Zsigmond, the troops of the Begler Beys of Buda, and Temesvár were coming. Némethi and Báthori agreed that it was better to accept a battle now because, in case of winning, they could receive the troops of János Zsigmond with this good news, and the Turks would need to turn back, too. 

Báthori István
The two armies clashed at the castle of Hadad. Balassa had just 4,000 Hungarian and German soldiers, but they were picked, seasoned ones. The Transylvanians had a double-sized army but there were many untrained peasants among them. Let us read how Forgách Ferenc recalled these events in his writings:
Cardinal Forgách Ferenc (1560-1615)
“When Ferdinand was informed about the escalating war, he issued an order to the counties, namely to send their troops to one place. Báthory István and Némethy Ferenc had 8,000 armed soldiers in their camp. János (Zsigmond) could not be there because he was sick, and stayed at Kolozsmonostor, near Kolozsvár. However, he tried to recruit soldiers from everywhere. He gave an order to his commanders to avoid all kinds of clashes because he wanted to lead them in battle when he could bring his reinforcement. But his opponents also knew about this, and they were in a hurry all the best.”
 “They (the enemy) got as many troops from the counties as they could, and on 4 March they marched to Hadad castle with 4,000 men. The commanders of János’ army originally decided to stay within the walls of the castle, and just engage in smaller fights to hinder the enemy. The castle which was connected to the camp was defending them quite effectively, and the number of their soldiers was double that of the enemy. Yet, Némethy Ferenc did not keep himself to the decision, and as soon as the enemy arrived he sounded the alarm, and deployed all his infantry and cavalry at once. The soldiers were waiting before the camp, without any warning, they had no idea about the enemy’s preparations who were already getting ready for the fight.”
Balassa Menyhárt
“When the two armies got closer to each other, Balassa, leading many Hussars, attacked them. As a result of this, the first lines were forced back, and the Transylvanian infantry, mostly Saxons, fled. Némethy Ferenc followed them, and later his whole army was on their heels. Only Báthory István did not flee, and he kept on fighting although he was injured on his chest and arm. {According to another source, Istvánffy, he did not get wounded but he could hardly escape, only Keresztúry Kristóf remained on his side} Finally, he saw that everybody deserted him.
He knew the forest very well, and he escaped, getting through the dense lines of the enemy, while they were rushing in front of him or around him. At last, he and a few of his men managed to get to safety. However, many of his scattered soldiers were cut down, especially the men of Balassa slaughtered them, just to prove their reliability with new and decent crimes. Many were captured, among them the rich and high-ranked Telegdy Miklós, Csáky Pál, and Bornemissza Benedek. Later, they had to pay a heavy ransom for their freedom. After the battle, the camp was also taken. As for Hadad castle, it surrendered because it could not have defended itself on its own.” Read more about Hadad Castle:
The church of Hadad (Photo: Levnagy)

János Zsigmond was hindered by the rebelling Székelys, and Balassa was held back by a great defeat that his brother János suffered on 27 March at Szécsény castle. Also, the campaign could not be continued because the Ottoman allies were approaching. Finally, a truce had to be made on 12 April, according to the “status quo”. Except for Munkács and Huszt castle and their area, János Zsigmond lost all his territories outside of Transylvania. Yet, he could gain time to put down the Székelys, and the Royal Hungarian troops could not get in, either.

János Zsigmond, elected king of East Hungary
  However, the Ottoman allies did not keep the truce. They besieged Szatmár castle where Zay and Balassa took themselves in. As the Turks had no siege engines, they wanted to starve them out. Indeed, the defenders’ situation became grave at the end of April. The defenders sent Balassa to get help from the royal army that was at Olcsaapáti. Balassa got in a boat and rowed through the besiegers’ camp at night on 27 April. Upon his arrival in the royal army’s camp, he wrote a letter to Archduke Maximilian to send aid. He also sent a letter to Kerecsényi László, captain of Gyula castle.
At last, the people of Szatmár castle could escape from sure death because János Zsigmond interceded with the Ottomans, referring to the truce. Then, the Ottomans lifted the siege on 4 May and left for home. Balassa and Zay were able to secure Ferdinand’s rule in the region for a further two years but it caused the devastation of the land. Yet, a few strong noblemen remained faithful to János Zsigmond in the Trans Tisza Region, people like Némethy Ferenc, Bebek György, Mágóchy Gáspár, and Hagymássy Kristóf.
Szatmár castle
Source: Szibler Gábor

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