Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars


Csobánc (picture: Civertan)

Csobánc Castle is one of the fortresses that guarded the highlands of Lake Balaton in Hungary during the Ottoman wars. With the arrival of the Magyar tribes in the 9th century, this region was conquered by the chieftain Léd or Vérbulcsu. However, the Magyars did not conquer these lands until the second half of the 10th century. Csobánc Hill was first mentioned in 1220 when it was donated by Comes Sal of the Atyusz family.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

Csobánc Hill used to belong to the Keszi family, whose members served at the king’s court. We know that they had a dispute with some noblemen from Diszel about the ownership of the hill, because they had built a stone house and produced wine there. Finally, in 1225, they reached an agreement and the hill remained the property of the Keszi family, but the nobles were given the right to use the building and the vineyard. This document doesn’t mention the existence of a castle. It is assumed that the stone house was the core of the castle, but it was not mentioned as such until 1272, without naming the owner.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

Gyulaffy Demeter of the Rátót clan received Csobánc Castle in 1300 and appointed a castellan named Csaba. We do not know much about the history of the castle in the next 200 years. It is certain that it belonged to the Gyulaffy family until the second half of the 17th century. Here you can read more about a famous member of the Gyulaffy family:

As for the castle, in the 13th century, there was only a stone tower, but in the 14th century, it was surrounded by stone walls. We know about a castellan of Somló Castle, Leányfalusi Ágoston, who is said to have built “very useful buildings” around Csobánc Castle in 1491. It is believed that he built the outer walls, the moats, and the south-western gate tower with a deep moat in front of it. The ditch was full of sharpened stakes and covered with a board, it was called the “wolf’s ditch”. He probably built the cistern in the courtyard and had other ditches and holes dug on the plateau to hinder the enemy’s siege machines.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

Gyulaffy László of Rátót died around 1490 and his widow, Lady Pethő Margit, and his son János inherited the castle. According to a document from 1491, Lady Margit, with the consent of Count Kinizsi Pál of Temes County, gave the castle to her son, Pethő János. Csobánc was an important castle in the chain of fortresses of the Borderland, its most famous captain was Gyulafi László in the 16th century, a descendant of Gyulaffy László of Rátót.

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The Turks tried to take it in 1554, but they couldn’t occupy it because one of the walls collapsed during the siege. It was besieged again in 1559 but to no avail. The Ottoman historian Evija Cselebi mentions the fort and the retreat of the Turkish army. The fort became more and more dilapidated, but there was no money in Vienna to repair it, despite its strategic position. Only its garrison was increased.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

It was given to the Eszterházy family in 1664. Later the Austrians decided to blow it up. When the Ottoman threat had disappeared and there was no need to keep the castles in Bonderland, these fortresses became dangerous for the king. In fact, they couldn’t blow up the castle because of the War of Independence of Prince Rákóczi Ferenc II.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

Szász Márton, the hero of Csobánc castle

The name of Szász Márton was mentioned only once in history. He was a vice-lieutenant, and he and his 30 Hajdú soldiers, together with 30 noblemen, their wives, and children of the area, entered the castle of Csobánc. They managed to defend Csobánc on 25 February 1707.

Csobánc, a memorial plaque of the fight in 1707

It was the greatest siege of the castle, it took place during the War of Independence (1703-1711) of Prince Rákóczi Ferenc. General Jean-Louis Rabutin de Bussy moved along the Trans-Danubian region and sent a detachment led by Colonel Kreutz against Csobánc Castle. The Colonel had 1,000 soldiers.

Kuruc vs. imperial soldiers

They attacked the castle and managed to breach the gate and climb the ruined walls. However, the defenders (including the women) fought so hard that they repulsed them. About 400 imperial soldiers were killed, including 52 officers, among them was Colonel Kreutz. Szász Márton, the commander of the defenders, was also killed. Their resistance was even acknowledged by the commander-in-chief of Rákóczi’s “kuruc” troops, Bercsényi Miklós. (We called the rebels “kuruc”, while the “labanc” people supported the Austrians). In the castle of Csobánc, we can see a monument erected in 1957 to commemorate the event.

Hungarian reenactors, the Gyulaffy Banderium

No wonder, that the castle, finally taken in 1709, was blown up by the Habsburgs.

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Here are more pictures of Csobánc Castle: