When Ottomans attacked each other in Hungary, 1558

Ottoman agha in the 16th century

19 May 1558: Strange war on the Hungarian-Ottoman Borderland, the Ottoman beys of the South-Trans-Danubian Region fought a battle against each other in the forest at Hard…

We have heard many sad stories about how Hungarians were fighting against Hungarians: but it seemed to have come to the „end of the world” to the contemporary onlookers when they saw that even the Turks attacked each other…
It was the son of Török Bálint, Captain Török Ferenc of Enying, commander of Pápa Castle who wrote the following letter to Lord Nádasdy Tamás on 19 May 1558. Reading it, even the most experienced and seasoned Borderland warriors must have been surprised…:
(I am adding the original Hungarian letter as well in case somebody could give me a better translation.)

„I trust you that Your Lordship has heard of the case that happened with Bey Oroszlán {Arszlán aka Lion}, how his camp was ambushed and how he himself got wounded. Those people who were there say that the camp of Bey Oroszlán was attacked at the forest of Hard {northern part of Tolna County} but there were no more than three of the attackers who could have cried the battle cry „Jesus” and even those could not have been able to explain who Jesus was. {They were pretending as if they were Hungarians, in Hungarian dress, as it was the habit of the Hungarians to cry „Jesus, Jesus” when attacking. Note: Szántai Gábor}

As the hearsay went, this incident, namely, the hitting at the camp of Bey Oroszlán was the doing of the Bey of Veszprém Castle {Mehmed} and Bey Wely. They attacked the camp and immediately they killed three khadies {judges}. They wanted to kill Bey Oroszlán but he was defended by a Janissary who was cut down at once. There were eight or nine wounds on Bey Oroszlán and a chief Turk officer was slain but they didn’t kill any of the common soldiers and took no valuables away. Only one of the attackers was killed, behold, his head was shaven bald and his body was taken to Fejérvár {Székesfehérvár Castle} where they found his entire body was Turk. (…) Those poor folks who are visiting Székesfehérvár, they said the Bey sent 32 Sipahi riders to Veszprém Castle to capture the Bey there…”

At this time, Arszlán aka Oroszlán was a Bey of Mohács Castle but before it, he used to be a Sanjak Bey of Szendrő (Snedorovo) Castle and Sandjak Bey of Székesfehérvár Castle as well. {The Ottomans divided each Vilayet into several smaller territorial units called Sanjaks and it was quite common to appoint their leaders just for a limited time. Sometimes these commanders even traded their Sandjaks and exchanged them with each other, of course after paying the proper „gift” to the authorities who approved these changes. Szántai Gábor} Bey Arszlán took part in the campaign in Nógrád County in 1552 and he was at the unsuccessful siege of Eger, too. Later, he became the leader of the Vilayet of Buda in 1565/66. He was the third Pasha of Buda, the son of Jahjaoglu Mehmed.

The siege of Székesfehérvár in 1601

On the other hand, Bey Mehmed of Veszprém Castle and Bey Veli(csán) of Hatvan Castle (later Bey of Fülek Castle) were his enemies who led a proper campaign against him, dressing their soldiers in Christian clothes. They ambushed Arszlán’s camp in the forest of Hard where Arszlán received 8-9 injuries despite he was defended by a brave Janissary soldier who was slaughtered. A few Turk officers were also slain but no common soldiers were hurt. The attackers lost just one man who was examined and he proved to be a Turk. (circumcision) Soon, the Pasha of Buda had Bey Mehmed arrested but Mehmed found shelter at Prince Bajezid, the sultan’s son. Yet, he lost his position.
An investigation was ordered by the Sublime Port and the servant of the Pasha of Temesvár, Voivode Mustafa was also arrested. The charges were dropped against him and he was released the next year, though.

Veszprém castle (Photo: Csendesmark)

The news of the incident spread all over the Trans-Danubian Region and caused a great surprise among the Hungarian Borderland warriors.
{My note (Szántai Gábor): I think it had to be connected to Grand Vizier Sokolovic who was building out his own family network in occupied Hungary and the Balkans. It was the time when the ancient Turk families were being forced out of the power by the new upstarts like Sokolovic.}

Here is the Hungarian letter:
„Hiszem, hogy értette kgd az Oroszlán [Arszlán] bég dolgát, mi módon az ő táborára ütöttek volt, és ő maga is, hogy sebben eset volna, az eszkén emberek, kik akkoron keztök [köztük] voltanak, így beszélik, hogy az hardi erdőről [Tolna megye északi részén volt] ütöttenek volna Oroszlán bék táborára is, háromnál több Jézust nem kiáltott volna, azok is nem igen jól magyarázhatták volna az Jézust. Híre az, hogy a beszprémi bég [Mehmed veszprémi bég] és Wely bég míve lett volna, hogy az táborra ültettnek, mindjárast az Oroszlán bég táborára mentenek és az három kadiát, kik ott voltanak mindjárast meg ölik. Ő magát is Oroszlán béket megakarván ölni, de egyjanczár oltalmazta meg, azt azonnal megölték, Oroszlán béken penig nyolcz vagy kilencz sebek lettenek, egy fe [fő] népeket is vagtanak le, az köz törökök kezyül senkit nem bántottanak, semi nemyű marhát el nem vittek. Azt kik reájuk mentenek azokban egynél több meg nem halt, tar volt annak kerig az feje, az testét Fejérvárra bevitték, úgy találták, hogy minden mógya török. (…) Ugyan azon szekén emberek, kik be járnak bizonnyal mongyák, hogy az bassa Weszprémbe 32 izaphiát [szpáhit] küldet volna az ot való béket fogva vitte volna.”

(Source: Szibler Gábor)

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