Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars

About me and my historical narrative

Szántai Gábor, in Buda Castle

Politically correct or nationalist narrative?

I think it is necessary to make my point on this issue as I have been accused of both of the above-mentioned narratives. Somebody said that „liberal” or „open-minded” people of the west would label my writings as „another biased nationalist from East Europe” while another person wanted to sue me for „whitewashing Hungarian history in favor of the Muslims and the post-Trianon states of Central Europe”.

Knowing the international trends and debates, these sorrowful reactions are obvious results of superficial thinking. Nevertheless, these outright generalizations and double standards can be tracked down easily.

Naturally, I claim myself innocent of being „politically correct” (fierce hypocrite) or an „ethnomaniac” (ignorant extremist). Maybe my definitions are not precise, though. In order to understand my views, my readers might find it necessary to write about myself a bit more:

My background

My late Dad was from Salgótarján but he had Slovakian roots. Sadly, he never spoke in Slovakian to me. His parents were good and kind people, I wish they hadn’t died so early. They had undergone a Hungarozation and changed their names from Sztrázska to Szántai. However, I would never deny my Slovakian ancestry.

Having said so, my mother is a Hungarian: her family members lived in North Hungary (now Slovakia) and opposed Slovakization in 1946. Thus, their properties were taken away and they were deported to Hungary. As a child, I spent all my school holidays in Czechoslovakia (1974-1990) where I experienced firsthand how the local Hungarians were oppressed and deprived of their human rights concerning their native language and heritage.


During my college years in the 1980s, I traveled extensively to Transylvania and eye-witnessed the darkest years of socialist-nationalist Romania, led by the dictator Ceausescu. I was shocked by seeing many evil things being done against the indigenous ethnic Hungarians living there. However, my frequent travels forced me to learn some basic Romanian language in Budapest. As time went by, my small knowledge of the language made me realize that the simple Romanian people are not our enemies. 

Kolozsvár (Cluj, Klausenburg), the destination of my travels, 1984-1989

Later, I was awarded a scholarship in the U.S.A. Soon, I was taking part in an educational project where our international team tried to establish teacher-training schools for national minorities in Slovakia, Romania, and Ukraine. The idea was based on a Scandinavian model where the students produce the sources for paying the expenses of the school, they are the so-called “peoples’ academies” in Denmark.  Politically, our future institutions would have been protected by connecting them directly to the EU and the UN. Our set of values was based on equal human rights and democratic principles, including mutual respect and tolerance.

I used to live in Denver, Colorado

One of our goals was to disperse ignorance and hatred between ethnic groups by spreading knowledge and conflict resolution in order to enable the area’s nations to join forces and work peacefully together. We were against manipulative political instigators who always wanted to take advantage of ethnic tensions in exchange for increasing their power. It is a pity that the project has failed.

Being a great fan of history, I have invested my energies in reading and researching it. Eight years ago I went a step further and I began practicing longsword fencing on an amateur level. I hope I can enjoy HEMA (Historical European Martial Art) until I can lift my hand.

The picture was made at Visegrád on a HEMA tournament (I used a modern mask, though)

My Hungarian narrative

God granted national diversity to humankind for a reason and it is good. There is nothing wrong with being proud of our national heritage unless we do harm to others. As I was studying history, I came to know that in many cases the love of the Land is sometimes more important than the language of the inhabitants. The second most important reason was religion as far as Central Europe was concerned. Finally, came language and heritage.

My second PC: a Jornada 720 (made in 2000) and my other sword, made in 2012

In my region, there was a historical period when Hungarians and non-Hungarians fought on the same side. At least most of the time. This is why there are many Slovakians, Croatians, Serbs, Romanians, Germans, and many more children of other nations in my Facebook group (now there are about 10,500 people), not to forget the Turkish ones who are also there. They are friendly with the Hungarians and they know that the Hungarian-Ottoman wars were basically dynastic wars between the Ottoman sultans and the Habsburgs rulers, before the birth of modern nationalism. This group can be joined here:

Together, we have already discussed many „touchy” points of history and indeed, there are still arguments but it is a small miracle how well we work things out. The very existence of this group is a living denial for those who wish to stick labels. Sticking labels is easy but finding a discussion is hard.

Here, you can read about how Professor Fodor Pál summarized different national narratives in his lecture:

Reading my webpage, you can find stories not only about heroic Hungarians but also heroic Slovaks, Serbs, Germans, Irish, Italians, Spanish, and even Turks. Among other things, you can read how King Matthias Corvinus knighted his Jewish subjects, how Hungarians fought sometimes against each other. In my book, I even wrote down a legend that gave an example of the Gypsies of Nagyida who defended the castle valiantly against the enemy. Behold, there are also stories of ladies whose deeds must be preserved: 

As for my „national Hungarian narrative”, I would say that I can’t scrutinize history from an ivory tower. I am a Hungarian and can’t pretend that I am proud of the deeds of my ancestors, while fully aware of their mistakes. Yet, I would dare say that they paid a higher price than many western countries in defending Europe against Ottoman expansion. It is not just a guess, there are facts that prove it. Naturally, I can make a statement only about Hungarians but I assume that the people of the Balkan had paid a similarly high price. Here is my article about ethnic changes in Hungary due to the Ottoman wars:

I am on the right side in this picture

Other narratives

Nearly everybody agrees that the history of Hungarian-Ottoman struggles is underrepresented and marginalized in the schools of the world, including the popular media TV channels and the internet. 

Indeed, after taking a careful look at social media and internet sites, I have realized that all other national narratives are quite well represented when talking about Ottoman wars. The Austrian, the Romanians, the Serbians, and many other nations proudly claim the honor of defending Christendom while the Turkish say how invincible they were. We are lagging behind: surprisingly, there is no Hungarian narrative to be seen in the mainstream (internet) media. (Except for academic studies but common people never read them.) Not to mention the grand-scale historical movies that have been produced about this age by nearly every non-Hungarian.

I thought it would be good to add a Hungarian narrative so I launched my FB page “Hungaries 1632” that I have currently renamed “Hungarian History 1366-1699”:

In October 2019 I began to salvage my articles from there to my self-hosted webpage but I still have more than 50 castles to upload and many-many posts. I would like to call your attention to the books that I have written in the meantime; they are available in ebook as well as in various paperback/hardcover editions on Amazon and in my Shop:


I am planning to publish my next book soon and looking for better publishers than Amazon. Also, you might find a few interesting items in my Shop:

All suggestions, donations, prayers, and connections are warmly welcome. I am not going to give it up, whatever would happen. I am thankful to my Ladywife for her kind support and encouragement.

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