Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars between 1372-1699

Hungarian sabers, 15th-17th century

In this post, I will list a few nice Hungarian sabers from the 15th-17th century. 

Let me begin with an early Hungarian saber from the 15th century:

This is a Hungarian saber from the end of the 15th century, now it is owned by a collector somewhere in the Netherlands.

This saber can be used with one or two hands, the grip is 14cm, the all-over length is 98cm, the blade is 78cm while the pommel is 5x5cm; the weight is 1130gr.
The only similarity I could find is in Mueller / Koelling / Platow and described as Hungarian end of 15thC. Another one is said to have been sold at Sotheby’s in 2002.

Swords with S-shaped guards and cat’s head pommels are deemed to be medieval Hungarian. The cat’s head pommels are thought of as of Venetian (on the Adriatic sea) origin. This sword looks like a hussar sword with a cat’s head pommel. These hussar swords later had almond-shaped pommels (late medieval time) and the crossguards became smaller/shorter.

The straight cross guard on the sabers may have been a Turkish/Ottoman influence. At the end of the 16th and during the 17thC the Hungarian hussar sabers were very similar to Turkish ones. The Hungarian sabers began their unique development in the second part of the 16th century.

(Source: Ethnographic Arms & Armour)

The saber of Bebek György

This saber that belonged to Bebek György, the infamous but brave Hungarian knight who died in 1567. The saber is on display in the Hungarian National Museum, Budapest now. According to the sources, this saber was given by Sultan Suleiman I to Bebek György in March 1565 when he was released from the captivity of the Ottomans. As it was, Patócsy Zsófia, his wife, had ransomed him by sending 50 Turkish prisoners of war, and 10,000 gold Ducats to Istanbul, along with lots of gold and silver jewelry and vessels. 

The Sultan summoned him to the Divan on 6 March, and released him from his captivity but told him strictly not to fight any more against the Ottomans, and be loyal to János Zsigmond. He gave him an expensive kaftan and a nice Arabic horse with a similarly expensive saddle on it, then gave him 10-10,000 silver Akche coins in his pockets so as to go home as it was befitting to his rank. Other pashas gave him four more horses, and the Sultan gifted him with this special saber that must have been designed for him.

The material of the weapon is iron, wood, chagrin leather, silver, and gold. It is 94 cm long, 3.3 cm wide, and weighs 2 kilos together with the scabbard. It is a Hungarian-style saber but on the razor-sharp blade, there is a Turkish mark that says it was made by the Egyptian Amel-i Mohammed Miszri. You can see the coat of arms of the Bebek family on the tip of the grip. The precious stones are removed from the scabbard. You can read the letters G.B., which refer to Georgius Bebek, the last of his family line.
Source: Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum, Photo: Jaksity Iván

The exciting part of the saber is the drop-shaped tip of the grip which is a typical Hungarian feature. The development of the Hungarian saber began to differ from the Turkish sabers in the middle of the 16th century, that is why this saber is so interesting.

The saber of Balassa Menyhárt must have been similar, his saber was taken to Vienna in 1549. In the picture, you can see the tombstone of Balassa Menyhárt:

After the death of Bebek György, his widow, Patócsy Zsófia must have inherited the famous sword. She was famous for defending the castle of Szádvár against the Habsburg troops, then she left for Transylvania where she died in 1583 in Küküllővár. The famous saber surfaced again in 1896 when it was on display during the exhibition organized for the Hungarian Millennium. At that time, it belonged to the armory of the Habsburg king. There were lengthy negotiations about the ownership of the saber after the Treaty of Trianon, and finally, the saber was given to the Hungarian National Museum.

Source: Magyar Nemzeti Múzeum, Photo: Jaksity Iván

You can read more about Patócsy Zsófia and the castle of Szádvár on my page:

https://www.hungarianottomanwars.com/kingdom-of-hungary/szadvar/

Szádvár castle
Source: Hagyomány és Múltidéző 

https://sites.google.com/site/hagyomanyesmultidezo/nyilvanos/katalogus/xvi-szazad/ferfi-viseletek/hadi-viselet/fegyverek/koezelharci-fegyverek/kardok/szablyak/szablya-magyarorszag—bebek-gyoergy

and: https://www.szadvar.hu/2021/07/bebek-gyorgy-szablyaja/

Saber with Scabbard


It is an Eastern European saber, probably from Hungary. We can date it back to around 1550. Some think it is a late period Ottoman “kilic”, though. 
Material: Steel, gold, wood, leather
Length: 41 1/2 in. (105.4 cm);

Length of blade 35 5/16 in. (89.7 cm);

Weight: 3 lb. 7 oz. (1559 g);

Weight of scabbard: 1 lb. 11 oz. (765.4 g);

Weight of strap: (c) 4.6 oz. (130.4 g)

According to others, the handle is the same as in the Titian painting of Cardinal Ippolito de Medici (1511-1535). The scabbard is later in the 1500s. Probably close to the 1535 timeframe. Here is the painting:

It is on display in New York, in the Metropolitan Museum.

The Saber of Rákóczi László (1633-1664)

This can be read on the typically Hungarian-like blade: GLORIA VIRTVTEM SEQVITV (R) and HECTOR TROJANVS. On the inner side, you can see the COA of the Rákóczi family with the text PRO DEO ET PATRIA. Below that, the dim letters: C.(omes) L.(adislaus) R.(ákóczy) D.(e) F.(els) V.(adász) C.(omes) S.(arosiensis S.(iculorum) C.(omes)? Under the COA we can read: DOMINE DIRIGE VIAS MEAS. Then, an eagle with a sword cutting a Turk figure can be seen and the text ADEO VICTORIA. There is a warrior holding a sword and one more inscription: ACHILES GRAECVS

The blade is 83 cm long, the entire length is one meter. It weighs (with the scabbard) one kilo and 380 grams. The blade is 4 cm wide. Rákóczi László lost his life in the siege of Várad castle on 27 May 1664. I am working on a longer article about him.

Source to this saber: https://hu.wikibooks.org/wiki/F%C3%A1jl:R%C3%A1k%C3%B3czi_L%C3%A1szl%C3%B3_(1633_vagy_36-1664)_kardj%C3%A1nak_fegyverkov%C3%A1csjegye.png

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