Andrew Gaudi, the Scot hero of Várad
13 September 1658: the siege of Várad has begun; its hero was a Scot officer, Andrew aka András Gaudi / Gawdy.
Gaudi was an artillery officer with a Scottish origin. According to the sources, his name was Andrew Gawdy, and he was born in 1612 or 1613. We do not know exactly when he appeared in the service of Prince Rákóczi but he was among his soldiers at the beginning of 1637 already because he was the envoy of Rákóczi who sent him to Poland. He also took part in the forging of the alliance between the Transylvanian prince and the Protestant powers.
He had fought successfully in the campaign of Prince Rákóczi György I of Transylvania in 1644-45 against King Habsburg Ferdinand III, as one of the leaders of Rákóczi’s army. (Please, note that I use the Oriental name order for Hungarians where family names come first.) We know that he and Kemény János together besieged the castle of Szatmár in February 1644. Gaudi was in charge of 250 German musket men. He took also part in the taking of Lőcse (Levoca), then he went to serve the Swedish in 1646. He was fighting on the different battlefields of the 30-Year-War as a Vice-Colonel.
Gaudi got rich enough to buy himself properties in East-Prussia during the first part of the 1650s, then he returned to Transylvania in 1654. He served in the unlucky Polish campaign of Prince Rákóczi György II as well and we know that he was also in charge of the Hungarian infantry and artillery as a Vice-Captain. Then, he was appointed as the captain of Brzezany Castle.
He distinguished himself in the siege of Várad (Oradea) during the following year, valiantly defending it. Grand Vizier Köprülü Mehmed took Borosjenő Castle in September 1658 while the Crimean Tatars tried to take Várad (Oradea) Castle. Accepting the rank of Várad’s captain, András Gaudi had made careful preparations in the castle before the Vizier got there. He reinforced the garrison with “some thousand good Hungarian and Szemény (?) infantrymen, with German musket-men” so he didn’t need to be afraid of the enemy taking the fort.
Here is more about Várad castle:
Várad castle’s fortifications were in quite a bad shape because the previous captain, Gyulai Ferenc could not restore it in his 8-year-long captaincy so Gaudi made amends and had them repaired quickly. Gaudi based the role of the defense mainly on the cannons and he “had two light and small cannons fixed on-axis and they were drawn by two horses so they could be carried after him fast, he also placed good artillerymen next to them although he was a good master of this trade, too”. thus, he seems to have established a mobile artillery unit that was long before its age.
During the siege, he had the cannons loaded either with balls or with grapeshot, and under the cover of the soldiers, he had the cannons pulled as far as the first lines. Then, the covering soldiers moved to the left and to the right suddenly, and the killing shot was fired in the face of the besiegers from close proximity. The Crimean Tatars, although they had already got into the lower city, suffered tremendous losses from these cannons.
Led by Gaudi, the cavalrymen had sallied out from the castle many times and its mobile cannons cut deep lines into the thronged Ottoman and Crimean Tatar soldiers.
Wherever the trenches and the walls were breached, he had them quickly mended by empty barrels and sent there Hungarian and German riflemen, ordering them to keep their position until the last man, under the penalty of death.
The siege took place between 13-20 September and has been ended with the total defeat of the besieging Crimean Tatar, Ottoman, and Wallachian soldiers.
A Scottish sword preserved in a Hungarian Borderland castle
Gaudi later stayed with Prince Rákóczi during his desperate fights against the Ottomans who wanted to punish him for his unsuccessful Polish war. He took part in the victorious battle of Lippa at the end of June 1658, it was he who was commanding the Transylvanian artillery. He was also among the besiegers at the walls of Szeben (Sibiu) castle. It was Gaudi who persuaded the prince in 1660 to engage himself in the battle of Szászfenes, saying that he would lay down his arms if the prince would be hesitating longer. Finally, Prince Rákóczi gave in but he got a lethal injury and died. You can read more about this battle here:
After the battle, Gaudi moved to his Prussian domains and joined the service of Frederick William, Elector of Brandenburg. He died there in 1665. The Hungarian chronicler Szalárdi János wrote about him that “Gaudi András (…) was a lad from Scotland, but he was faithful and later became a decent and brave warrior…”
Read more about Scots in Hungary:
If you like my writings, please feel free to support me with a coffee here:
This article contains Amazon ads. By purchasing through these links, you can help my work at no added cost to you. Thank you!
My work can also be followed and supported on Patreon: