July 5th, 2011

Anniversary of 1456 victory over Ottomans becomes memorial day

From now on, July 22, the day when Christian forces led by Janos Hunyadi defeated the Ottoman Turks besieging Nandorfehervar (now Belgrade) in 1456, will be marked as a national memorial day in Hungary.

In a Monday vote, the motion presented by MPs of the ruling Fidesz and Christian Democrats was approved with no votes against and abstentions by the Socialist MPs.

The siege of Nandorfehervar took place from July 4 to 22, 1456. After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, the Ottoman Sultan Mehmed II launched an attack to subjugate the Kingdom of Hungary.

His immediate goal was to capture the border fort of Nandorfehervar at the confluence of the rivers Danube and Sava. The defence of the fortress was organised by Hunyadi, a Hungarian nobleman and warlord, who had fought many battles against the Ottomans in the previous two decades.

The siege eventually escalated into a major battle, during which Hunyadi led a sudden counterattack that overran the Ottoman camp, ultimately compelling the wounded Sultan Mehmed II to lift the siege and retreat.

During the siege Pope Callixtus III ordered the bells of every European church to be rung every day at noon, as a call for believers to pray for the defenders. The practice of noon bell is traditionally attributed to the victory.

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  • Thehat

    What it took 555 years to decide on this… Seems like this was a very very important decision for this nation and without it our future would be lost.

  • Farkas László

    Militarily, it was our last real “hurrah”, and marked the end of our offensive capability.

  • Farkas László

    The old medieval noble class feared the formation of a national army comprised of recruits from the peasant classes. They feared an army of Hungarian peasants every bit as much as any foreign invader, as such an army could have turned on them as a revolutionary force. Under medieval feudalism, it was preferred that only men with land be trained to be part of a warrior class. The problem with that idea is that there weren’t enough such men to defend the large territory that was medieval Hungary. At Mohi, in 1241, only 15,000 such warriors stood to defend the nation. At Mohács, it was upped to about 20,000. You can’t defend such large territory with so few men. A national army of one to two hundred thousand men could have finished off the Mogols as well as the Turks. How different our history would have been! Had Dozsa’s rebellion succeeded in 1514, the first priority should have been the formation of a national army.

    The occasional brilliance of commander like Hunyadi nowithstanding, the old medieval Hungary was a sitting duck for any well armed invader.

    • Viking

      Interesting post
      Why did not the Hungarian Noble Class go for an army of mercenaries?
      One problem with an army of mercenaries, only loyal to their pay, was that they regarded looting the locals as part of their salary, so you better keep the army on ‘unfriendly’ territory, or the territory would become ‘unfriendly’, creating an incentive for expanding your territory

  • Farkas László

    Sorry folks, couldn’t resist a little levity on the old man; I saw this joke about Otto:

    “It was he who spawned the joke in which an aide asks if he had seen the Austria-Hungary football match the night before.

    The deadpan reply: “No, whom were we playing?”

  • Farkas László

    I apologise, posted to wrong thread above!

    • Szabad Ember

      It was still funny!

  • a hungarian nobelman

    “Hunyadi, a Hungarian nobleman and warlord”

    The Hunyadi family were a noble family in the medieval Kingdom of Hungary, of Wallachia (Romanian)origin according to the majority of sources.

  • Attila

    A Hungarian none the less!!!

  • djoci

    Should we be more PC about him? What about this one: “Hunyadi, a nobleman and warlord contracted by the Kingdom of Hungary to take care of the defence against the Ottoman Empire.” 🙂

  • Bookworm

    Vikin@July6. Please see below re> ‘the use of mercenaries’.
    “Hunyadi provisioned and armed the fortress of that city, collected a considerable army of mercenaries, and was joined by a poorly equipped and ragged army of peasants. This untrained army, with the aid of Hunyadi’s troops, won one of the most remarkable victories in the history of Turkish wars, on July 22, 1456. Not only was the siege raised, but the relieving forces actually made sorties into the enemy camp. A few days later Hunyadi died of an epidemic that had broken out among the troops. The military success remained unexploited, though not without consequences; Hungary was saved from Ottoman conquest for 70 years.”

  • Farkas László

    Hi Viking,

    The use of mercenaries goes back to the founding of the nation. Many of the Árpád dynasty kings resorted to mercenary knights, especially Germans. The problem with these guys is that instead of cash (which was not a plentiful commodity back then) they wanted spoils in the form of land and peasants. Thus a 1,000 ambitious knights could end up costing the king a whole county!

    Those early kings failed to make the progression to a popular army. The idea that an army should fight out of patriotic duty and not for spoils had not yet taken hold. Also, there was no system of public finance with which to maintain the standing army of 100,000 or so, along with reservists that the proper defense of the country would have required.

    The old medieval upper class would have viewed the idea of a 200,000 mostly peasant men, armed with crossbows, with utter horror. Pity, it’s just the sort of thing that would have filled the Mongol and Turkish invaders with horror as well.

  • Robbie Hood

    The peasants had nothing, and even less, after any war whichever side won.
    That’s why communism eventually took a hold to the detriment of us all; except the party faithful
    in the shape of commissars etc., that became the new elite whilst executing most of the nobility/aristocracy and squashing the bourgeoisie (private endeavor) and installing state-regulated alternatives from Soviet Russia the motherland of communism.

    Hungary suffered, and suffered, because of communism and nazism, and had plenty of home-bred rogues such as Bela Kun, and Rakosi, to ensure the communist false doctrines were maintained ultimately stifling this land and its people.

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