Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars between 1372-1699

An old warrior’s challenge to a duel, 1555

Photo: by Jánváry Zoltán

“Whether God grants the victory either to him or to me, let the fight go on until death. In case God gave the victory to me, alas, I will behead my enemy.”

We can read it in a letter of an old Hungarian warrior who challenged the Turks to a duel in 1555 but there is more to the story. Please, note that I am using the Eastern name order for Hungarians where family names come first; and find the original Hungarian text at the end of my writing. All improvements to the English translation are welcome.
A duel between a Turk and a Hungarian warrior
As we can see, the letter was written by a Hungarian frontier warrior of Vasvár, Káldy Miklós, and he was challenging the Turks of Veszprém castle for a duel.  Yet, this letter is a very special source of information if you read it carefully. Also, reenactors and HEMAists should think about the interesting information that Káldy intended to wield an “iron rod” (mace?) in one of his hands and a saber in the other in the duel that he wanted to fight…This fighting style must have been widely practiced at that age. Take a look at the video of the “Duelling Hungarians Reenactor Group” (Bajvívó Magyarok) to have a hint about Káldy’s possible fighting style:
Veszprém castle, Hungary
Káldy Miklós wrote his letter at the Borderland castle of Vasvár in 1555 and addressed it to the Turks in Veszprém castle.
This letter is not significant just because it shows the virtue and self-conscience of a warrior from the Valiant Order of the Borderland. Additionally, Káldy proudly claims in his letter that he used to be the member of the garrison of Nándorfehérvár (Belgrad) and he had dueled with many Turkish warriors and beheaded them. This is why it is worth citing more from his letter.
To understand the thinking of the contemporary Borderland warriors, you can read more about the Valiant Order here, and in the sub-menu, there are several warriors of them listed who were similar to Káldy Miklós:
According to his letter, Káldy Miklós had had quite a long military service in the frontier castles because Nándorfehérvár fell in 1521 and the letter was written 34 years later. The Hungarian warrior had fought in countless battles and raids during this time. It is also interesting that while the letter was addressed to the Bey of Veszprém, Káldy addressed the Turkish warriors of Szendrő (Smederovo) castle because they had known him from the old times. Szendrő castle had fallen to the Turks in 1438 and used to be a strong counter-castle of Nándorfehérvár (Belgrade) while it was in Hungarian hands.
Szendrő castle in the 15th century
Read more about the early stages of the Hungarian-Ottoman wars before the fall of Szendrő here:

It is likely that there were many old Turkish warriors among the men of the Bey of Veszprém who had been seasoned in the wars before the Battle of Mohács in 1526. They could have started their military service in the southern castles like Szendrő. It is also remarkable how these warriors kept account of each other’s deeds, knowing their adversaries by name.
The walls of Szendrő
The letter says:
“You, the Turks of Szendrő, you know that when Nándorfehérvár had been in Hungarian hands, I used to know many of you and I can call you by name: it was the time when Bey Ali held the Sanjak from Szendrő castle, you can remember me because of this. (…) You know it well, my Father’s sons, Warriors, that I know you thoroughly, all of you whose names are listed in this letter. Furthermore, go and choose a warrior from among you, whichever you think of from those so many valiant warriors, the more skilled, the better, because on next Saint George day, if God allows me to live that long I am going to fight him, either on the field of Pápa castle or if he wants it, on the field of Győr castle or on the field of Veszprém castle, and no other weapon he should bring but a sharp saber and an iron rod, no armor, no helmet, let us wear just a dolman! Whether God grants the victory either to him or to me, let the fight go on until death. In case God gave the victory to me, alas, I will behead my enemy.”
A mace and the saber were used at the same time
After this challenge to a duel, Káldy recalls the “nice days of Nándorfehérvár”:
“…we had gone to pillage the land of the Sultan, and we have robbed the land of the Sultan and two voivodes came to attack us. One of them was the Voivode of Szonik and the other was the Voivode of Runik. Both of them were beheaded there, and it was me who took the head of the Voivode of Szonyok, so you can find out from this who I am. Later on, the Voivode of Szendrő castle and the Voivode of Szarnó have come to realize that we were the ones who had done it, they got many folks ready and set out to the field of Fehérvár (Nándorfehérvár) that is also called the field of Wracha.”
a duel in the 16th century between Turks and Hungarians
“Seeing this, the warriors of Fehérvár came out and they had a strong fight there, and it was on the field of Fehérvár where I took the head of Ahma, the Kapudji Basha os Szendrő, so you can remember this and recall who I am. Later on, the Turks got annoyed because of this and have come again – even more of them than before – to the same field. Seeing this, the warriors of Fehérvár came out again and they had a great fight and there I beheaded Deli Nazup of Szarna, so you can find out from this who I am. And when the Sultan took (Nándor)Fehérvár (Belgrad) then (…) we, the warriors set out against them (…) there we gained the cannons from them and it was when I took the head of Agha Ahma (Achmed?) next to the cannon. He used to be the Agha of the Janissaries so you can find out from this, too, who I am. And when you broke the wall very badly at the Nebozia (bastion) and when you led a huge attack in the dawn and when you got through the breach, the warriors of Fehérvár saw this, sallied and cut you out through the breach and they took seven flags from you there and there I took the head of Voivode Ahma: so you can learn from this, who I am.”

“Therefore, you brave warriors, if somebody happened to be amongst you who wanted to fight a duel with me, then he should let me know it a month before the day of Saint George and should also write his name to me whoever is going to answer my challenge and I will send him a nice present! So this letter is to be given to the Bey of Veszprém castle who should find me that Turkish brave warrior who would fight a duel with me. God may hold you, warriors, with all His goods.
This letter was written in Vasvár castle, on the day of Saint John, Anno Domini 1555.
The old warrior from Fehérvár: Káldy Miklós”
Hungarian reenactors in Eger castle
Let me show you the original Hungarian text as well, with some additions by Szerecz Miklós:
“Ti szendrői Törökök, tudjátok, mikor Nándorfehérvár magyar kézen vala, én közületek sokat ismerek és neveteken nevezlek: akkor Bali bég tartja Szendrőn a szandzsákot, arról eszetekbe jut. (…) Jól tudjátok, Atyámfiai, Vitézek, hogy én Titeket mind jól ismerlek, valahányatoknak neve itt a levélben vagyon. Továbbá egyik vitézt válasszátok ki közületek, amelyiket gondoljátok ennyi vitéz közül, minnél jobbat tudtok köztük, mert az eljövendő Szentgyörgy napján, ha az Isten azt meghagyja érnem, megütközöm vele, vagy a pápai mezőn ha akarja, vagy a győri mezőn, vagy a veszprémi mezőn, és semmi egyéb fegyver nála ne legyen, csak egy éles szablya és egy vas bot, sem páncél, sem sisak, csak egy-egy dolmányba legyünk! Ha az Úristen neki adja a győzelmet vagy énnekem, de az viadal mindhalálig legyen. De ha Isten nekem adja a győzelmet, hát én fejét veszem.”

Eztán a bajra hívás után, a levélben újra előhozza a “nándorfehérvári szép napokat”: “…a császár földjét mentünk volt rabolni, akkor megrablánk a császár földjét, és reánk támadott vala két vajda, egyik a szoniki, a másik a runiki, ott mindkettőnek fejét vevék, és a szonyoki vajdának én vettem a fejét, ezért arról meggondolhatjátok, hogy ki vagyok én. Továbbá a szendrői vajda és a szarnói vajda ezt megértve, hogy mi ezt míveltük volna, felkészültek volt nagyon sok néppel, és jöttek volt a fehérvári mezőre, mit Wrachának hívnak. Ezt meglátták a fehérvári vitézek, ők is kijövének és erős viadalt tettek ott, akkor Ahmát szendrői kapudzsi basának én vettem ott a fehérvári mezőn a fejét, azért arról is eszetekbe vehetitek, hogy ki vagyok én. Továbbá ezen megbosszankodván máskor megint eljövének – még annál is többen, mint azelőtt – ugyanazon mezőre. És megláták a fehérvári vitézek, s kimenének, és nagy viadalt tartának, ott vevém én is fejét a szarnai Deli Nazupnak, arról is tudhatjátok, ki vagyok én.”
Turkish-style saber in the Nádasdy Museum
“És hogy megszállá a császár Fehérvárat (…) mi vitézek reátok menénk (…) ott a pattantyúkat elnyertük vala tőletek, és akkor én fejét vettem vala Ahmát agának a pattantyú mellett – ki janicsár-aga lett volna –, azért erről is tudhatjátok, ki vagyok én. És hogy a Nebozia mellett a kőfalat erősen megtörétek és egy hajnalkor nagy ostromot tettetek, és bejövétek a törésen, ott azt megláták a fejérvári vitézek, nekitörének és kivágák őket a törésen, ott hét zászlót nyerénk el tőlük ott is én vevém fejét Ahmát vajdának: erről is megtudhatjátok, ki vagyok én. Azért Ti Vitézek, ha ugyan van valaki Ti köztetek ki megvívna velem, énnekem Szent György napja előtt egy hónappal tudtomra adja, a nevét is megírja, mi lészen a vitéznek neve, aki énvelem a bajt felveszi, én annak szép ajándékot küldök! Azért e levél adassék a veszprémi bégnek, hogy azt a törököt kikeresse közülük – vitézek közül –, hogy ki vívna meg velem. Isten tartson meg, Vitézek, minden javával. E levél kelt Vasvárott, Szent János napján, anno Domini 1555. A régi fehérvári vitéz: Káldy Miklos.”
Photo: by Jánváry Zoltán
Source: Szerecz Miklós: Mirrors of Valiant warriors, From Zrínyi to Rákóczi / Szerecz Miklós: Vitézség tükrei. Zrínyitől Rákócziig. – kézirat


 
 You can follow my work on Patreon, signing up to receive updates costs nothing; but naturally, I would appreciate your support very much:

Become a Patron! 

This article contains Amazon ads. By purchasing through these links, you can support my work at no added cost to you. However, if you want to help my efforts, feel free to get me a coffee here:
Close Menu
×
×

Cart