Magyar Bálint of Palona

Palonai Magyar Bálint (by Szikra János)
Let us talk about a famous member of the Valiant Order of the Hungarian Borderland, Palonai Magyar Bálint (Valentine) who died in 1573.
Learn more about the Valiant Order here:
He used to be the soldier of Lord Nádasdy Tamás, coming from a poor noble family of Zala County. The king tried to call him in his service by offering higher offices to him but it was in vain, Magyar remained faithful to the Palatine. 
His name was first mentioned in 1543 when he had a duel with Agha Kászon. It had been Nádasdy who sent Magyar to defend Pécs castle against the Ottomans and he must have been quite famous as the renowned Turkish champion challenged him for the fight. We know that Magyar defeated him. At this time, Magyar was a cavalry officer, a “chief-warrior / lad” (lovas főlegény).
When Pécs castle was surrendered to the Turks, he went to serve Nádasdy in Szigetvár castle.
Szigetvár castle (Photo: Civertan)
According to the contemporary Hungarian saying, “a castle can be defended only in the field” so Magyar was constantly harassing the enemy with his raids.
He became the lord of Fonyód Castle by his marriage. At the same time, he was trying to reinforce Szigliget castle as well. Both places are located on the Borderland, near Lake Balaton. He was the captain of Fonyód and Szigliget from 1545 till his death.
Lake Balaton in the 16th century
He has exchanged many letters with his liege-lord Nádasdy but he was not shy to express his opinion. Later, it was Nádasdy who scolded him for ambushing the Turks too carelessly. Magyar apologized to him in his letter in 1549 like this:
“for I have no more trust in anyone after God, except for in Your Highness in this country…so I am begging you to remove your anger over me as God sees me, I am without guilt.”
Sometimes the Pasha of Buda protested against Magyar Bálint’s actions at the king who had to write letters to the Palatine to slow Magyar down. The Pasha asked the king to send an army against Magyar but Ferdinand just warned him in a letter.
Szigliget castle (Photo: ferengra)

Magyar took part in the Siege of Lippa castle in 1551. Having returned home, he was soldiering between Pápa and Fonyód castles. He served Nádasdy both at the Rába River and in Somogy County. He was the captain of Pápa for a short time in 1552. Nádasdy was quite content and thankful for his success. We know a letter from 1552 in which Magyar Bálint wished a great Saint Valentine Day to his liege-lord who had greeted him as well.

Fonyód castle (Photo: Civertan)
 You can read more about Fonyód castle here:

The raiding Turks began to attack the castles along Lake Balaton in 1553-54 more frequently.

Palatine Nádasdy appointed him as captain of Kanizsa in 1555. It was when Bey Ibrahim of Pest challenged him but the Palatine banned the duel. Magyar was very sad and wrote the next:

“I have nothing to do, Your Highness can see from the letter of the Turk that he had just written to me. So this is why I am begging to Your Highness as you are my merciful Lord, let Your Highness allow me (the duel) because I fear that the Turk will write me again a letter in which he can spoil my honor. As I have been brought up among them (on the Borderland) since my early childhood, and I could save my honor so far, thus I would regret to suffer such shame in my adult age.”
Finally, Magyar went out for the duel, in spite of the ban but Bey Ibrahim was not there, though he had written a quite proud letter to Magyar before. Next, Ibrahim wrote a letter in which he claimed he had been there but Magyar wasn’t: it appears to me that they had communicational barriers.

Magyar had to leave Fonyód behind to defend the smaller castles in the southern part of Transdanubia in 1555. Bey Mehmet noticed his absence and ambushed Fonyód Castle at midnight on 21 September 1555. They could take the outer fort but then, they were repelled.

The highlands north of Lake Balaton
Magyar was fighting in the Battle of Babócsa in 1556, according to the contemporary historian, Istvánffy, he commanded 1,000 cavalrymen and 1,000 infantrymen. You can read more about Babócsa here:
The king wanted to appoint him as captain of Szigetvár in 1556 but Nádasdy didn’t want to release him from his service.
The Turks almost killed him in 1558 when the enemy besieged Szigliget and cut his way of retreat to the fort. Fonyód was also attacked this year but Magyar was at home and he repelled them with his 25 warriors. He repelled one more attack there in January 1559, too. The Ottomans didn’t give it up so easily so they combined the forces of several Sanjaks at the Christmas of 1561 but they were beaten back again. Nevertheless, they came back next year when Magyar was away from home again because he was assisting in the re-taking of Hegyesd Castle.
Magyar Bálint’s statue in Szigliget
Unfortunately, after the death of Nádasdy, Magyar lost his protector and he had many troubles with the local landlords. We know how underpaid the Borderland warriors were and it is not surprising that Magyar did what the similar captains of his age: he sent his hungry soldiers to plunder villages. His neighbors sent many complaints to the king. Yet, his soldiers admired him; Magyar never failed them, even ransomed them from captivity.
the coat of arms of Magyar Bálint
He was a soldier in Szigetvár in 1562 but Zrínyi Miklós disliked him.
The new Habsburg king, Maximilian didn’t like Magyar. The Diet of 1563 declared that Magyar had to give back Fonyód and Szigliget to the Lengyel family but Magyar didn’t care about it.
When Lady Kanizsai Orsolya sold Kanizsa Castle to the king, Magyar became the paid man of the king. Due to the constant lack of money, he had to seek contact with the Prince of Transylvania, just like his neighbor, Gyulaffy László (another famous warrior) did it.
Yet, Magyar was not young anymore and finally didn’t switch sides and remained on King Ferdinand’s side. Rather, he was looking for the shelter of Nádasdy Ferenc and Batthyány Boldizsár. It was Batthyány who helped the aged and sick Magyar to keep the two castles in concern. In the meantime, the Turks tried to isolate Fonyód Castle and built a fort opposite to it in 1570.
However, the enemy could not take Fonyód while Magyar lived. Magyar passed away during the spring of 1573 in April. The Turks occupied Fonyód two years later on 3 August 1575.
Let us pay respect to this honorable member of the Valiant Order who was ready to fight each day of his life.

Sources: Szibler Gábor and Túratárs Blog:


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