A duel in 1590 between Bori Mihály and Bey Ibrahim
Duels on the Borderland
The duels between the Hungarians and the Ottomans had strict rules that both sides had to keep. The honor and reputation were the most valuable things for the warriors of the Valiant Order, let them be Turks or Hungarians. Here, you can read more about the Valiant Order: https://www.hungarianottomanwars.com/essays/members-of-the-valiant-order/
These fights were constantly parts of the “small war” that was raging between major wars along the 1,000-mile-long Borderland. As these duels took place mostly in time of a Truce, the duelists had to get a permit from their superior which was not an easy process. According to Takáts Sándor, the underpaid Hungarian warriors regarded these duels (and ambushes, ad-hoc duels which were not legal at all) as the source of their living. Ransoming a rich Bey was a good income. Especially, when the Ottomans appointed a new Pasha who was often challenged right after his arrival to his position.
We have many letters of challenge that were exchanged between the Turks and the Hungarians. When the duel was approved, the participants were allowed to bring along their fellow warriors of equal size. The weapons and the terms were agreed and the “truth-seers” (the judges) appointed the spot for the fight. According to Takáts Sándor, each duel was followed by a feast where the Ottomans and the Hungarians were celebrating together, often engaging in horse races and other games.
Now, let us read about a duel that has become mad bloodshed because both sides violated the rules. Thanks to Szibler Gábor who found it in the Chronicle of the Hungarians written by Istvánffy Miklós (1538-1615). Note, I am intentionally using the Hungarian names in the Eastern name order in the case of Hungarian names.
The terms and conditions of the duel
It was Bory Mihály, Vice-Captain of Bakabánya who had a dispute he wished to settle with Bey Ibrahim of Drégelypalánk. Allegedly, they had a quarrel over a ransom of a captured soldier that served as a reason for the duel. You can read more about Bakabánya and Drégelypalánk on my page:
The day of the duel: 14 May 1590
In the meantime, Vice-Captain Bory came to know that Ibrahim wanted to ride a wild and biting horse during the duel. These horses were trained to bite the opponent’s horse or the rider. Once they bit into the flesh or clothes, they didn’t let it go.
Sources: Szibler Gábor and Takáts Sándor
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