Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars

Egyed / Nagyenyed

Photo: Țetcu Mircea Rareș

Enyed or Nagyenyed, (Aiud or Stroßbrich, Straßburg am Mieresch) is in Transylvania, in Romania. It is 30 km to the north from Gyulafehérvár / Alba Iulia, on the right bank of the Maros River. The fortification was built on the site of a Castrum from ancient Roman times. Later, it used to be a Saxon city, first mentioned in 1293, but after the tragic Saxon exodus, there were only 15 German people there in 2011. A few years ago the non-German inhabitants consisted of 16,955 Romanians, 3,364 Hungarians, and 930 Gypsies; not to mention those 1,598 people who didn’t say anything about their ethnicity. The name of the place derives from the patron saint of its church, Saint Egyed. 

Source: Benő Gyula

It is assumed that the settlement was born (or re-born?) after the Mongolians’ destruction in 1242. After the invasion, King Béla IV invited Saxon settlers to Hungary, including Transylvania. The settlers were already building a flourishing town in Enyed or Stroßbrich in 1293. The place belonged to the Prebend of Gyulafehérvár (Alba Iulia) at that time. During the Middle Ages, the settlement could not become a free royal town, it always had a landlord who owned it. You can read more about the Saxons of Transylvania here:

We know that the first fort was built between 1333 and 1335. The typical Árpád-age castle was enlarged around the end of the 14th century, eight towers were guarding its walls. However, the rebelling peasants were able to take it in 1437 but they soon surrendered it. The Ottoman Empire sent raiding parties to southern Transylvania in the 15th century and the Saxon and Hungarian settlements began to build walls around their churches. Enyed was following their examples.

Source: Szegedi Szabolcs

The first bigger siege of the castle took place in 1551 when the troops of Brother Martinuzzi György tried to take it. Brother György was a strong-handed statesman, he played a significant role in bringing about the Principality of Transylvania. The agricultural town of Enyed was prospering, the German Saxons were Lutheran while the Hungarians were of the Reformed faith; they shared the church with each other in a brotherly manner during the 16th century. Unfortunately, the wealthy town has always attracted hungry mercenaries. Its fort was burned by the Wallachian Prince Mikhael in 1600 and soon after by the general of the Habsburgs, Basta. The place has almost totally depopulated in this age so Prince Bethlen Gábor had to bring new settlers in 1609.

Photo: Lánczi Imre

During the reign of Prince Rákóczi György II, 317 Hajdú soldiers were awarded nobility and settled in Enyed in 1658. Most sadly, the Crimean Tatars looted it in the same year. The burghers took shelter in the fort and tried to offer lots of gold to the Tatars to go away. The Tatars didn’t accept the ransom and began the siege in earnest. The Hajdús and the Saxons were fighting until the end but then, they had to surrender. The Tatars took away all the treasures of the people, according to the legend, the burghers had to give them three beautiful virgins in addition. If you walk around on the ramparts of the walls, starting from the gate tower to the right, you can find towers and bastions that were guarded by different guilds. There are the Butchers’ Tower, the Tailors’, the Bootmakers’, the Skinners’, the Tanners’, the Potters’, the Kalantos (perhaps metal craftsmen), and the Locksmiths’ bastions.

The town was a renowned cultural center and famous for its Reformed College, founded by Prince Bethlen in 1622. General Rabutin put it on fire in 1704. According to the sources, 30 students fought in the rebels’ army against the Habsburgs but only two of them survived the battle. There was one more tragic event in Enyed: during the Hungarian War of Independence in 1849, the Habsburgs instigated the Romanians against the Hungarians. As a result of this, the Romanian irregulars, led by the Orthodox popes Axente Sever and Simion Prodan, sacked the place, killing 1,000 Saxon and Hungarian civilians (women and children) and chased the other 1,000 to die in the hills at Christmas time. It was a massacre because the men were fighting in the Hungarian army, far away from home. The famous library’s books of the College were hoarded in piles inside its halls and were put to the torch. It is shocking, but the leader of the massacre received a glorious statue in Nagyenyed / Aiud in 1993 which portrays him as a hero. 

Photo: Lánczi Imre

I do not know whether it is standing there in 2020 or not but this happening could not be left unmentioned in this article. It is still a dividing question between Hungarians and Romanians. Allegedly a Romanian historian, Silviu Dragomir has already declared it a barbarian deed. Hopefully, one day this sad event can be settled according to 21st-century-values.

Nagyenyed / Aiud today

There used to be a wide moat around the castle, now there is a park in its place with a walkway; the mass graves from 1849 are located in the moat, too. As for Axente Fever, he was born in the nearby Saxon settlement that now is wearing his name: however, Germans call it  Frauendorf while Hungarians say it is Asszonyfalva. You can read about the fortified church of Frauendorf / Asszonyfalva / Axente Fever here:

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Here are lots of pictures of Nagyenyed: