Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars between 1372-1699

The general assault against the Castle of Eger on Saint Michael’s Day, 1552

The women of Eger

It happened during the famous siege of Eger Castle and this huge Ottoman attack was repelled by the valiant defenders on Saint Michael’s Day, 29 September 1552. You can read here more details about the history of Eger Castle:

https://www.hungarianottomanwars.com/ottoman-occupied-lands/eger/

The siege had been going on since the beginning of September. The enemy was led by three Pashas who had been quite triumphant during the latest Hungarian campaign of 1552. They were Second Vizier Kara Achmed, Begler-Bey Szokollu Mohamed of Rumelia and Begler-Bey Khádim Ali of Buda Castle. Their army highly outnumbered the Hungarians and they had a huge artillery power: they had been permamently bombarding the castle. Yet, they had not launched a great general assault so far.

Eger Castle

The Pasha of Buda ordered Bey Arszlán of Székesfehérvár to send a letter of surrender into the castle, offering free conduct in it if they surrendered but Captain Dobó István ignored it. (Note: I am using the Eastern name order intentionally as far as Hungarians are concerned.) The Ottomans had high hopes that the defenders would give up the castle because they had been able to persuade the foreign mercenaries of Szolnok and Temesvár castles to do so.


 

According to the sources, they kept sending in letters not only in Hungarian but also in German, Spanish, Italian, Czech, and in Latin languages (even Romanian ones as well) or they were shouting them into the castle so as to make a propaganda among the foreign soldiers. They may not have known that almost all of the defenders were Hungarians. There was just one of them, Lituenant Hegedűs István from Kassa (Kosice, Kaschau) who went into negotiations with the enemy but he was caught and promptly hanged.

The tombstone of Captain Dobó István (photo: Thaler Tamás)

When the attack was launched on Saint Michael’s Day, the Ottomans trusted their superior numbers and there was a particularly fierce fight all along the walls. A powerful assault hit the Bolyki Bastion where two officers, Zoltay István and Bornemissza Gergely were in charge of the defense. They successfully repelled the attack.

The most perilious assault came from the western side, at the Ó-Gate (Old-Gate). It was Pethő Gáspár who led the defenders there. The Ottoman miners exploded the gate of the castle and pulled down the wooden wall that was built behind it. The Ottoman infantry could rush through the breach in numbers. The Janissaries took up strong positions in the tower that stood over the Ó-Gate. They could shot the defenders very effectively from there, killing many.


 

In this dangerous situation, Captain Dobó István had all his cannons turned towards the enemy-held gate and tower where the fighting was still fiercely going on. The volley of his cannons destroyed their targets and the section was taken back.
Finally, they were able to repel the first general attack in a bloody combat…

Eger in 2004

As for the women who took part in the defense, it was quite common thing among the women of the Valiant Order all along the Borderland. Here you can read more about the Valiant Order:

https://www.hungarianottomanwars.com/essays/members-of-the-valiant-order/

In the painting of Székely Bertalan, you can see the famous women of Eger fighting from the walls:

Source: Szibler Gábor

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