We have to talk about two famous figures of the Nyáry family: Nyáry Lőrinc and his son, Nyáry Pál. Nyári Pál’s grandfather was a flag bearer in the Black Army of King Matthias Corvinus, and his father, Nyáry Lőrinc of Bedegh (about 1517-1558/59) must be mentioned among the brave warriors of the Valiant Order, and each member of the Nyáry family was a seasoned soldier. His uncle, Ferenc (the brother of Lőrinc) fought bravely not only in the Battle of Mohács in 1526 but defended Vienna and defeated an Ottoman unit during the siege of Buda in 1541. Nyáry Ferenc also distinguished himself in the Victory at Szalka in 1544. Then, he led the Hungarian auxiliary troops of King Ferdinand during his campaign in Schmalkalden in 1546, and he helped the king to win the Battle of Mühlberg. Unfortunately, he soon died in Saxony.
Nyáry Lőrinc, the defender of Szolnok castle
Nyáry Lőrinc inherited the rank of Chief Comes of Hont County from him, he had this title in 1547. Lőrinc was also a captain of a castle, the lord of Berencsváralja and Korlátkő castles, as well as the official Guard of the Hungarian Holy Crown. Here is more about Berencsváralja castle:
Lord Nyáry was one of the leaders of the delegation that carried the Holy Crown of Hungary in 1551 when Queen Isabella, the widow of King Szapolyai ceded this treasure to King Habsburg Ferdinand. Right after this, Ferdinand appointed Nyáry as one of the Guardians of the Holy Crown. He was also appointed as captain of the strategically vital Szolnok Castle in 1547. Szolnok was a freshly built fort, and during the victorious Ottoman campaign in 1552, the enemy besieged it.
Nyáry Lőrinc was in a difficult situation because he had only 1,400 men, mainly Spanish, Bohemian, and German mercenaries. They were not full-heartedly defended the castle against the huge Ottoman army. Pasha Ali arrived at Szolnok on 25 August but the defenders refused to accept his demand of surrender. Ali did not have many troops so he could achieve nothing. However, the larger army of Ahmed and Szokollu Mehmed arrived on 2 September. Seeing their numbers, the mercenaries in the castle got frightened and began to whisper about surrender.
The Germans were the first to escape on the night of 3 September, and the Spanish followed them soon. Seeing this, most of the Hungarians did the same. After they and the foreign mercenaries fled, Nyáry Lőrinc, Pekry Gábor, and their 50 men defended the walls to the end. They were all killed or captured, and Pekry and Nyáry were wounded and taken into captivity. He was taken as a prisoner to Istanbul where he was shut in the Yedikule. Even King Ferdinand’s envoys in Istanbul, Verancsics Antal, and Zay Ferenc could not set him free. As it turned out, a renegade Hungarian, a man called Huszár Imre of Regéc helped him to escape from there. Upon returning home, Nyáry gifted him several villages out of his gratitude. Also, Nyáry was able to persuade the king to get Huszár and his sons elevated among the nobility. Nevertheless, Nyáry had a few enemies at home who wanted to sue him for losing Szolnok castle but finally, the case was dropped.
According to the sources, Nyáry Lőrinc had two wives, first Török Margit of Enying, and after her death Turóczy Mária. Lőrinc had four sons and three daughters. His most famous son was Pál, you can read about his life below. Nyáry Lőrinc passed away in 1558 or in 1559. In spite of the fact of losing Szolnok castle, he did not flee from the fort and made his last stand with his few men, and it was a deed that made him one of the bravest warriors of the Borderland. You can read the history of Szolnok castle here:
The life of Nyáry Pál, the defender of Eger and Várad castles
Nyáry Pál was born in the first years of the 1550s. Like many children of other high-ranking noblemen, he was brought up in the Royal Court in Vienna. Nyáry Pál was at the unsuccessful siege of Esztergom in 1594. Assumedly, he was among the heroes who assaulted the walls, like Balassi Bálint who died there. On 1 October 1594, he was appointed as Captain of Eger castle. Pál was there at the siege of Hatvan castle in September 1596 and he must have seen how the bewildered mercenaries slaughtered the Turk garrison. Knowing, that the Sultan will assault Eger castle, Archduke Maximilian sent him to Eger. Soon, Pál arrived at Eger with the Archduke’s reinforcement but didn’t have much time left before the Turks got there.
Sultan Mehmed III arrived at Eger on 21-22 September 1596, and the siege began on the next day. The enemy tried to breach the walls and assaulted the castle many times but the defenders repelled them each time. It happened on 30 September, and the Christians not only beat the enemy back but chased them to their camp. Then, the besiegers tried to dig mines, and they managed to breach the walls in several places as well. A mine went off on 4 October, destroying a huge part of the outer castle’s wall. The castle’s Italian military engineer, Christophoro Stella also lost his life in the fight.
After the disaster, the defenders were still able to repel the first wave of assault but in the second, a panic broke out among the soldiers. It was caused by an accidental explosion of a gun-powder barrel, they thought it was another mine. Pushing and tramping each other, the defenders were fleeing into the inner castle. In fact, Captain Nyáry was among the first of the runners who rode back into the inner fort through the Setét-Gate. The fall of the outer castle has doomed the inner fort.
Yet, the defenders carried on the fight, beating back the renewed assaults one after another. However, they could not stop the enemy from digging new mines. One of them went off on 8 October, causing great destruction. The Walloon and German mercenaries began to lose heart, they were talking about surrender. Captain Nyáry Pál and his officers, Terska and Kinski, at first tried to calm them down with words. When they could achieve nothing, they began to threaten the rebels. It was also in vain, the rebels started talks with the Turks, without involving their officers on 11 October. finally, they negotiated their terms, namely to leave the castle unharmed. The Ottomans marched in on 13 October. They promptly slaughtered all the Walloon and German mercenaries but they let the Hungarians go away. However, they captured their officers so Nyáry became a prisoner of war.
Nyáry Pál was lucky enough to free himself from captivity a few days later, during the Battle of Mezőkeresztes on 26 October. When the Christians began to loot the Turk camp, he escaped from the tent of the Grand Vizier. Upon his return to the king’s army, he was arrested for the surrender of Eger. Fortunately, he could prove his innocence and instead of receiving a punishment, he was awarded for his heroism. You can read more about the fall of Eger here:
Although Nyáry lost Eger castle, later he was able to make amends and saved Várad castle. Grand Vizier Szaturdzsi Mehmed decided to occupy Várad (Oradea) castle and the Partium Region in 1598. The Partium was a historical and geographical region in the Kingdom of Hungary during the early modern and modern periods. It consisted of the eastern and northern parts of Hungary proper. Archduke Maximilian (aka Miksa) sent reinforcing troops there, under the command of General Melchior Redern, Colonel Nyáry Pál, and Giovanni Marco Isolano so as to aid Várad castle.
Király György was the captain of Várad who ordered Nyáry to defend the Királyfi Bastion. Nyáry made a perfect job there. The siege began on 29 September 1598, the enemy attacked mainly the Királyfi, the Csonka, and Föld Bastions. Led by Nyáry, the defenders always repelled the assaults. Even General Redern accepted his outstanding deeds in his report to the king. Captain Király received a lethal wound on 17 October so Nyáry took over the command. The Ottomans were trying to explode mines, sending assaults, but they were always beaten back. Finally, Grand Vizier Szaturdzsi Mehmed quit the siege and left Várad on 3 November.
Emperor Rudolf appointed Nyáry as the captain of Várad. Nyáry retook Sarkad castle in the next year, slaughtering many soldiers of the enemy there. When his first wife, Török Zsuzsanna died, he married Várday Kata of Kisvárda in 1600. Because of her, he took to the Calvinist faith. Lady Török Zsuzsa had brought him into the marriage the castles of Pápa, Gesztes, and Diósgyőr, including the villages around them. Her second wife gave him Kisvárda castle. We must remark, that Nyáry’s daughter, Krisztina inherited all these lands that finally ended up in Palatine Esterházy Miklós’ hands who married her.
In spite of supporting the Imperials, Nyáry Pál took the side of Prince Bocskai István of Transylvania in 1604. He was among the diplomats who signed the Treaty of Vienna on behalf of the prince in 1606. He became the Chief Seneschal of Bocskai. Nyáry was a good friend of Báthory István, Judge of the Country, and Nyáry became the guardian of Báthory Anna n 1605. However, Lord Nyáry passed away at the end of 1607, leaving behind four sons and two daughters. His son, István became a soldier and suffered Turk captivity just like his father and grandfather. Nyáry Krisztina became the wife of the wealthy Thurzó Imre, their wedding was celebrated by the famous preacher, the Protestant Alvinci Péter. After Thurzó’s death, she remarried Esterházy Miklós and their wedding was conducted by the famous Cardinal Pázmány Péter, the antagonist of Alvinci. She became the mother of the princely line of the Esterházy family. We have her diary which is a valuable source for us.
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