Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars between 1372-1699

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 in 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

Felsővály /Vysné Valice, the village where my family came from

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 first hand how the local Hungarians were oppressed and deprived of their human rights concerning their native language and heritage.

Felsővály

During my college years in the 1980s, I have 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 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 enemy. 

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 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 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 about being proud of our national heritage unless we do harm in 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 the 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 7,421 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:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/2043764082501630/

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:

https://www.hungarianottomanwars.com/spreading-hungarian-history/

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 Gypsies of Nagyida who defended the castle valiantly against the enemy. Behold, there are also stories of ladies whose deeds must be preserved:

https://www.hungarianottomanwars.com/essays/the-lady-with-a-hook-gun-in-buzita-castle/ 

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 the 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 similarly high price. Here is my article about ethnic changes in Hungary due to the Ottoman wars:

https://www.hungarianottomanwars.com/essays/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 around in the social media and the internet sites, I have realized that all other national narratives are quite well represented when talking about Ottoman wars. The Austrian, the Romanian, the Serbian, and many other nations proudly claim the honor for 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-Hungarians.

I must remark that they are well-financed; unlike me. I have tried to find support but I may have been knocking on the wrong doors and have received just lipservice.


 

Four years ago I thought it would be good to add a Hungarian narrative so I launched my FB page “Hungaries 1632”:

https://www.facebook.com/hungarianturkishwars/

Last year in October I began to salvage my articles from there to my self-hosted webpage but I still have more than 150 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 paperback through the Amazon and in my Shop:


 

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

https://www.hungarianottomanwars.com/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.

You can support my work if you happen to click on an Amazon advertisement in my article and end up buying anything: then, Amazon would give me 1-2% of your purchase. At least they said so. Thank you very much.)

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