Berenhidai Huszár Péter, a Hungarian Hero

A contemporary drawing of Berenhidai Huszár Péter

He was a valiant Hungarian soldier who was closed in a prison for his victories. He was one of the greatest warriors but he was not appreciated by the Habsburg ruler as much as he should have been.
Berenhidai Huszár Péter (?-?1603) used to be a Hussar officer in the 16th century Hungarian Borderland. (Note, I use the Oriental name order for Hungarian names where family names come first.) He began his career as a mere Hussar of the Valiant Order but he has become the greatest duelist, falling in the footsteps of Lord Thury György. Read more about the Valiant Order here:

After he defeated the Turkish Deli Csáffer in a duel, he and his captain were invited to Vienna and it is a fact that he got imprisoned for a short time for this fight. Although duels were banned so far nobody had been punished for it with prison. He, the winner of many duels and victor of many battles became the first who was sent to the dungeon for it. Luckily, he was soon released: the Habsburgs needed talented warriors like him. He must have had a good reputation because he was appointed as the chief captain of Pápa castle in 1593, though. Let us remark, that Pápa was a very important fortification to the Habsburgs because it was defending the direct passage to Vienna. You can read more about its history here:

Pápa in 1597

Due to his many victories, even the Ottomans honored and respected him. The most famous commanders of the age had asked for his council and he was fighting in the units of Nádasdy Ferenc (the Black Bey), in Batthyány Boldizsár and Zrínyi György (aka Juraj Zrinski)’s units. There were no major battles without him. Yet, he was sued from time to time. His next court case was held because of the taking of the Castle of Koppány as he had taken part in it with the warriors of Pápa City without having obtained a permit beforehand.

a Hungarian Hussar from the 17th century

When Huszár was the captain of Pápa castle, he exchanged letters with Nádasdy Ferenc in January 1589 about a raid against the Ottomans. Nádasdy wrote the following to Pápa castle:

„We have got such news that the Turks would come out to plunder. So we are going to set out from here, from Sárvár castle in good time, as many as we can, toward Devecser. This is why we ask you, Sir, to come along with as many soldiers as you can have so as to resist the enemy if God is with us.”
Huszár reported the next to the Chief Captaincy of Győr castle on 31 January 1589:
„With the help of God, I am going to set out today immediately toward Devecser. As God is helping us, we are striving to defeat the enemy, upon joining His Highness Nádasy, in case the Turks came out and we would meet them somewhere, God will beat the enemy.” – he adds that he would keep the Chief Captain informed day and night in the days to come.
Nádasdy Ferenc, the Black Bey
The Ottoman Turks decided to launch a raid at quite an unusual time because they rarely started such campaigns in the winter. The soldiers were hindered by the cold as well as the tracks in the snow could betray them to the enemy. The Ottoman warriors must have been starving that winter in their castles and would have rather taken the risk of being seen in exchange for the plunder. However, it could have been also likely that they had wanted to test the alertness of the guards in the Hungarian castles. There may not have been much snow during that winter so they could have acted more bravely. There were many reasons for their raid. Of course, the Hungarians also led raids in the winter like the raid of Huszár and Nádasdy against Koppány castle two years before, it took place in February, during a very hard winter.
a Hungarian Hussar
The ceaseless line of heroic deeds, the everyday raids in forgotten valleys and roads had saved the country just as much as the great famous sieges and battles. So we have to pay tribute to the heroes of these fights where small units clashed, in nameless places, leaving behind nameless tombs.

Huszár Péter in Transylvania

Later he went to serve the Prince of Transylvania. There he voted against Prince Báthory Zsigmond and was imprisoned to Déva castle; it was General Basta who set him free.

Lugos castle (photo: König Frigyes)

Basta made him the captain of Lugos. At the siege of Lugos Castle, he was captured. Although Pasha Bektás wanted to save his life, he was ceded to the Crimean Tatars by Székely Mózes. Finally, the Tatars killed him mercilessly, to the eternal shame of Székely Mózes. It took place on 11 April 1603. The Tatars ritually murdered him in front of their leader’s tent, drank from his blood, skinned his skull, and stuffed it with hay.

A Crimean Tatar

You can read more about the events of the 15-Year-War and learn more about the Transylvanian situation in 1599 when Huszár Péter was in the service of Prince Báthory András:

(Source: partly from Szibler Gábor)

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