The White Geese of Léva Castle (1664)

Léva castle (by Pe-Jo)

“The legend of Léva castle reaches back to the time when the Turks were its lords. The commander of Léva at that time was Pasha Köprülü and he was having a good time in it. His only problem was that he felt lonely and his harem was empty. He was fortunate to have a scribe called Ali who was a shrewd renegade originally called Pali. Ali kept whispering into the ears of the fat Pasha who finally offered him one hundred gold coins if he could come up with a good idea.

Within a very short time, and on behalf of the Pasha, the scribe wrote a letter with his copper writing stick to the Hungarian city judge of Léva town.

“Behold, you judge of Léva. I send you my command that you are to send into the castle fifty snow-white geese within three days from now. Each must be carried in by a young and pretty maid. If you fail to obey my words, I will have you impaled, and your twelve town advisors will be beheaded, too. Otherwise, I send you my greetings, may the peace and goodwill of Allah be known by you and your foot would never step on a thorn on your path, and may the Prophet bless your entire family.”

The judge and the city leaders of Léva were frightened and without advice. The fathers, husbands, and fiancées were holding a council from evening to morning, but they had no idea how to save the girls from peril. They were about to decide to defend them by taking up arms when the door of the council room opened and Veronika, the beautiful daughter of the judge, entered with proud confidence in her eyes.

“My lords, take heart and never despair. Trust me and the other maidens. We are going to take care of the fat Turkish pig. Yes, we will go up to the castle, all fifty of us, each holding a white goose. All we need from you is a sharp dagger to hide under our skirts. Your job is to be armed and come near the castle gate in secret. When you see the geese flying away, hurry into the castle with unsheathed swords.”

There was nothing to do, Veronika couldn’t be discouraged and finally, her plan was accepted. The next day the girls set out at dawn to go and present them to Pasha Köprülü as it was commanded. The gate was opened before them and they entered the castle in twos, holding their snow-white geese tightly. The Pasha had sent most of his troops to raid the countryside because he didn’t want so many hungry men watching the girls join his harem.

Ali, the scribe was grinning when he led the fair and slender Veronika to the Pasha. His palm was itching for the prize he was anticipating for his brainy plan.

“You are going to be my first wife!” exclaimed the Pasha with cow eyes “Just put down that bird and hug me, let me kiss your rosy cheeks.”

Veronika cast her eyes down obediently and released the goose that immediately took to its wings and flew away. Did the Pasha care about that when he was about to be kissed and pampered as he would be in the heavens? Veronika did hug him and with the same move of her shapely hand, she slit the throat of the Turk with her father’s dagger.

A ceremonial dagger from Transylvania, 1540

That was the sign. All the other geese went flying with a great noise into the air and the blades of long knives glittered in the girls’ hands. The renegade was the second to fall and those twenty or thirty lazy soldiers in the yard were surprised and slaughtered in a blink of an eye.

The lads and burghers of Léva had not much work left when they rushed into the castle. Once they were in, they secured the gates and loaded the cannons on the bastions with nails and musket balls.

When the raiding Turks returned they were greeted by a hailing rain of hot iron from the throats of their own cannons. They had to run away. Perhaps they are fleeing still, even to this very day, from those walls.”

Read more about this dagger which is nice but has nothing to do with the legend:

You can read this legend in my book “33 Castles, Battles, Legends”. 

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