Mekcsey István (around 1550-1553)

Let me tell you more about Mekcsey István, who became famous during the siege of Eger Castle in 1552. The Mekcsei (Mekcsey) family appears in our history in Baranya county in the 14th century. Their first known ancestor was Mekcsei Imre, who according to the sources was called ” Mekcsei Imre of Baranya”, his sons were Miklós and Péter, who were mentioned in documents between 1379-1428.
The memorial plaque of Mekcsey in Sajóvárkony where he died on 13 March 1553
It is probable that Mekcsey István is descended from the above mentioned ancestors, we do not know the names of his parents. Captain Mekcsey István from Eger was born between 1495-1500 in Baranya County in a noble family in the village of Gerde, we know of a brother László and a sister named Sára. Mekcsey László was mentioned in a document of 1561 as a deputy notary, a follower of Prince János Zsigmond of Transylvania. Mekcsey László died in 1562.
Győr, 1566
The first evidence of the military service of Mekcsey István dates back to 1546, when he commanded 98 hussars as one of the Hungarian officers of Győr Castle. A year later, he was the castellan of Huszt Castle, the prefect of the important and lucrative salt mines of Máramaros and he was also the Comes of Máramaros County. He came to Eger on December 24, 1550 and on January 1, 1551 he was appointed second captain to Dobó István in the castle of Eger. Note that it was common in Hungary to appoint two captains at the same time: one of them always stayed in the castle, while the other one went on military missions with the Hussar cavalry.
A Hungarian Hussar commander, 1591
On January 24, 1551 he married with Szunyogh Eszter in the castle. On July 9, 1552, Dobó István, as the delegate of the captain of Eger Castle, asked the nobility of several counties to help defend the castle against the Turks at the partial assembly in Szikszó. One of the most prominent participants of the defense of Eger Castle in 1552 was Mekcsey István, whose name, together with those of Dobó István, Bornemissza Gergely, Zolthay István and other officers who fought in Eger, is widely known to the educated public in Hungary.
Eger castle Photo: David Sallay
The fact that many people know that Mekcsey István served in the Eger Castle is mainly due to the writer Gárdonyi Géza, based on the novel “The Stars of Eger”. According to the novel, he stood out during the Turkish attack with his well-known fighting spirit: Gárdonyi once wrote about him that “he jumped on the wall with his head and a half long spear”, that “he could hardly be stopped from rushing out into the midst of the Turks”, and that in the last hours of the siege “his helmet was covered with red blood”.
The siege of Eger in 1552 (by Vízkelety Béla)
Although he was badly wounded while defending the Old Gate – according to the chronicler Tinódi, “he was badly injured by a stone” – this did not deter him from continuing to fight, and he remained on the ramparts until the last day of the siege. According to the historian Csiffáry Gergely, “he did not only encourage his people with fine speeches (…) like Dobó, he also scolded his soldiers, and even when that did not help, he drove these few men to the defense of the walls with a stick, so to speak”, or as Gárdonyi puts it, “in his rage he stumbled the dazed and disobedient soldiers with a broken spearhead”.
The defenders of Eger castle
Photo: Globetrotter19
In 1552 he made a great contribution to the victorious defense of the castle, for which King Ferdinand I rewarded him with 50 forints and an estate. On November 25, 1552 Mekcsey retired from the castle together with Dobó, but from January to March 1553 he continued to act as a captain. You can read more about the Castle of Eger on my page: 

https://www.hungarianottomanwars.com/ottoman-occupied-lands/eger/

Eger Castle
Although the name of Mekcsey István is associated with the 38-day siege of Eger, little is known about the life of this outstanding castellan in 16th-century Hungarian history. Reading the various biographies of Mekcsey István, we find that they are written about only three years of his life, between 1551 and 1553, and mention his tragic death. On March 13, 1553 he set out to visit his wife, Szunyogh Erzsébet, who was staying in Ungvár. On the way he passed through Sajóvárkony, today a part of Ózd. In the village of Várkony he asked for help to continue his journey.
Eger castle, exhibition
Photo: Imre Lánczi
Some say he asked for a cart and for hay, on the yard of the local inn. But they refused the nobleman’s request and even resisted with weapons. One of the peasants hit him on the forehead with an axe and then stabbed him with a spear. He was buried in the church of St. Márton in Csütörtökhely (Spišský ŠtvrtokDonnersmarkt). Mekcsey László inherited the estates of his dead brother in Baranya County.
Csütörtökhely Photo: Thaler Tamás
It is interesting to note that after the death of her husband, his widow, Szunyogh Erzsébet, married Apponyi István. Their marriage produced a number of people who later played an important role in Hungarian history. On March 31, 1553 Bornemissza Gergely with a group of hussars searched for the murderous peasants in Várkony, but they escaped and were never found. As a punishment he plundered the village and took away the cattle and grain. He confiscated 3 oxen, 3 young cattle, 5 calves, 99 bushels of wheat, 35 hand mills and had the bell and the clock of the village church taken to the castle of Eger.
Eger (Source: demizsonapartman)
Mekcsey István fought against the Ottoman invaders in 1552 as the deputy of Captain Dobó. His brave stand and military leadership contributed greatly to the victory of the castle defenders. The people of Eger honored him as a hero and named a street after him.

Sources: Erdei László; Csiffáry Gergely: Az egri Dobó István Vármúzeum Évkönyve, 2005. And: 

https://library.hungaricana.hu/hu/view/MEGY_HEVE_agria41/?pg=105&layout=s&fbclid=IwAR27HyQY3XIvkcunwGcZ8_jbHtCsw470y26a612YsFcdW96QjtBN-GFCXOw

The statue of Borderland warriors in Eger

 

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