Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars


Csobánc (picture: Civertan)

Csobánc castle is one of the forts guarding the highlands of Lake Balaton in Hungary during the Ottoman wars. At the arrival of the Magyar tribes in the 9th century, this region was taken by Chieftain Léd or Vérbulcsu. However, the Magyars could gain these lands only in the second part of the 10th century. The hill of Csobánc was first mentioned in 1220 when Comes Sal of the Atyusz Clan gifted it. 

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

The hill of Csobánc used to belong to the Keszi family whose members served in the court of the king. We know they were having a debate over the hill’s ownership with some noblemen from Diszel because they had built a stone house and were producing wine there. Finally, they agreed in 1225 and the hill remained the property of the Keszi family but the noblemen were given the right to use the building and the vinery. This document didn’t mention the existence of a castle. Assumedly, the stone house was the core of the castle but it was mentioned like this only in 1272, without naming the owner.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

Gyulaffy Demeter of the Rátót Clan received Csobánc castle in 1300 and he appointed a castellan called Csaba. There is not much we know about the history of the castle in the next 200 years. One thing is for sure, it used to belong to the Gyulaffy family until the second part of the 17th century. Here is more about a famous member of the Gyulaffy family:

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

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

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

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The Turks were trying to take it in 1554 but they couldn’t occupy it, but one of its walls collapsed during the siege.  It was besieged again in 1559, in vain. The Ottoman historian Evija Cselebi mentions the fort and the Turkish army’s withdrawal. The fort was getting more and more ruined but there was no money in Vienna to get it repaired 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 have it explode. When there was no need to keep these Bonderland castles as the Ottoman peril had gone, these forts became dangerous for the king. In fact, they couldn’t blow up the castle due to the War of Independence of Prince Rákóczi Ferenc II.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

Its greatest siege was in 1707 when General Rabutin could not take it even with his 1000 men. It was protected then only by 30 Hungarian rebels and 30 noblemen and by a few women and children. They killed more than 400 men of the enemy, including 52 officers. Finally, it was taken in 1709 and the Habsburgs had it blown up.

Hungarian reenactors, the Gyulaffy Banderium
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