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Hungarian (and other) habits of battle...

Printed From: History Community ~ All Empires
Category: General History
Forum Name: All Battles Project
Forum Discription: Forum for the All Battles military history project
Printed Date: 07-Dec-2021 at 20:20
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Topic: Hungarian (and other) habits of battle...
Posted By: Tar Szerénd
Subject: Hungarian (and other) habits of battle...
Date Posted: 19-Jul-2007 at 13:37
I wanted to write about some (mainly in old chronicles) mentioned, typical Hungarian habits (and other stuff) before, during and after the battle in the middle ages.

And please, if anybody else has some interesting infos about his/her peoples military habits, post them here.
For example, in 933 in the battle of Merseburg, the Hungarians opened the battle with diabolical "Huy-huy!!" screaming.
By the same event it is mentioned that the escaping Hungarians had threw away their large golden and silver necklaces and jewels  (to bring the Saxons to stop).
But f.e. in the battle of Dürnkrut the Hungarians screamed 'Jézus! Jézus!', just the (hung.) kumans screamed "Huy-huy"!
I don't know, when became 'Jézus!' the official army battle cryConfused in Hungary, but it survived surely until the 17th century: at that time the Transylvanian army was mounted into the saddle (it means to make the battle formation) after screaming 'Jézus'  and after three cannon shots.
But: two other battle-cry was common too: one was the "Hozzá!!" (~ Towards!) and the "Rajta Magyar! Rajta!" (Come on Magyar! Come on!) - the last was used mainly by the Hussars (but the other was surely used too)
A French knight wrote in the 14. century that the Hungarians were singing military songs (?) and called the Hungarian saints (Holy Stephan and mainly H. László) loudly for help on the way to the battlefield.
Other interesting things coming soon.
(I know just one other thing without my books:-) : these was mentioned two times in the Hungarian history: once in the First WW, and once by the French knight above (I have some other details from him about the buhurt/turnier organized in Hungarian stile in Buda): if the Hungarian warriors didn't want to go into the battle, they mounted into the saddle saying "No, bazd meg...!" (Oh, f**k it!") It's funny:-))) But I think this was common in other countries too.

EDITED by Rider - fixed some spelling mistakes and renamed the topic. Thanks,

Posted By: rider
Date Posted: 19-Jul-2007 at 14:20

I wonder... what are other battlecries used by anyone?

I do seem to remember that "Deus Vult!" was used by the Templars and Hospitallers.


Posted By: Tar Szerénd
Date Posted: 20-Jul-2007 at 05:04
The Bohemians cried 'Praga! Praga!' (Praha?) at Dürnkrut.
(Thanks RiderLOL)

Posted By: rider
Date Posted: 20-Jul-2007 at 08:29
Yes, 'Praga' would mean 'Prague' I believe... interesting.. I suspect that was a local thing... and not a wide-spread battle cry however.

Also, I remember that besides the Crusader/Templar 'Deus Vult' the Spaniard Crusaders (in the Reconquista) used 'Santiago' as a battle cry.

The Kamikaze pilots yelled 'Banzai'...

The Catalan Company used 'Awake(n) the Iron' as their battle cry. I have no idea what it was in Spanish/Catalan.


Posted By: Tar Szerénd
Date Posted: 20-Jul-2007 at 14:42
Some interesting sentences from the manuscripts of János Kemény (Princeps of Transylwania, main captain of Transylwania etc.), XVII. Cent.:
The good commander / officier should speak loudly, he should have a commanding presence, and he should hold strictly order in the army camp.
He has to controll srtictly the campguards, because the hungarian soldiers usually don't cear much of it;
He has to know the war-habits of the eventual enemies. He has to fight such successful with german musketeers as with crim-tartars;
He has toclear up the movings of the enemy army; he has to have/hold payed spies on the battlefield;
He has to know many trics to deceive the enemy;  f.e. If his army is weak, the enemy should think, he is stronger:  
                                                                  he has to send units away from the camp at night, and the enemy would think they are the reinforcement when they came back on next day
                                                                  In the evening he has to order for each soldier to repeat the cry "Jézus" (it was the sign for tattoo too~ I didn't know that yesterday)  many times, and to make a lot of camp-fires;
If he is preparing for fight,  he had to make the enemy believe that he want to leave and let to lay a trap in the empty camp for the enemy forces;  if he want to retreat, he had to make the enemy believe that he want to fight.
Instructions from a man, who (and the 20 000  men strong army under his command) was captured by the crim-tartars. But it is very interesting. :-))

Posted By: rider
Date Posted: 20-Jul-2007 at 16:43
It is... Sounds like 'the Art of War'... at least in some places... 


Posted By: Tar Szerénd
Date Posted: 21-Jul-2007 at 01:44
Yes, I have an other source and the suggests are nearly the same as in the Art of War.

Posted By: Tar Szerénd
Date Posted: 10-Oct-2007 at 09:33
Descriptions of the hungarian light-cavalry:
(this post is an addition to the post about the hungarian-neapolitan wars (Notable battles of the mediavel hung., 3th or 4th page) The light cavaly made cc. the 1/3 part of the army of I. Louis of Anjou during the wars in South-Italy)
The hungarian warriors
From the chronicle of Matteo Villani, after 1363
"The italians are wondering at the number of riders who are following the hungarian king in the war. The hungarians are a large nation, almost all of them stay under the rule of barons. The baron title is not hereditable in Hungary, and a man can't hold it until his death, the king can donate it at any time and for anyoneas he wishes.
It is prescribed by antient rules, how many riders should follow the baron into the king's army, when the ruler goes into a war, so everyone knows his duty regarding the number of riders and his time of service during the war.
When the king send for them, they had to mobilize immediately, so every baron and community assigned those, who have to be in alert for the war, someone just with one, someone of them with more horses, with light attacking-arms: with bow, with arrows in their quivers and with long sword for defend. Usually they're wearing four leather caftans (or "coat"), each smeared (with grease or tallow), so it becomes very hard and it is very good for defending the body. Just some of them is wearing a helmet, bacause a helmet could disturb them while using the bow, wich is their only hope in battle.
The hungarians got many studs, their horses are not large, they use them for ploughing and for any field work, and they put them to a carrige. (...)The horses get just grass, straw, hay and a few fodder, mainly when the hungarians are going to the east, and trough the large, dry lowlands.
On those lands they use brestplate-shaped saddles, binded together with leather straps, and on uninhabitated lands or in the warcamps horse and rider spend the night in the open air, without a tent, the warriors make their beds from the saddles, and if the weather turns rainy,wich happens quite rare, they put a blanket up from one ot two sides, but their horses are accustomed to the rain(...)
There are living a large number of cattles in Hungary, who are not used for fieldwork, but after they being cut (the hungarians make trade with the grease and leather) the meat get stewed, salted, dried and pulverized, and while they 're going trough a dry territory, where they can't find enough food, every soldier takes a bag of the meat powder and a copper kettle (even the commander let to transport in large amount on carriges) and when they arriwe to a water they stop, boil some water and put the powder in it compared to the number of soldiers, the powder sweels up, and the pulp from one or two handful of powder fulls the whole kettle and makes an ordinary food with, or even without bread. So you can't be wondered that they and their horses can (even in large number) survive and go troug the wide, dry lands,(...) but in our land, where they can get enough bread, wine and fresh meat, they get bored with this powder-food, their morals get changed, and they couldn't support themself, because the fields are small, the towns and castles are stong and the people carefull. That's why the more they come into our land hte earlier they get trouble with the board.
Their tactic is not to hold on in the battle, but making incursions, the flight, chasing, shooting arrows, drawing back from- and turning back to the enemy lines.
They're skilled in looting and in riding large distances, they're shooting strongly the horses and infantry of the enemy. That's the reason why they are useful in the battle on an open field, they are the masters of fast attacks,  they doesn't count with hte death, they're searching for danger.
The hungarians always hang together, they're attacking the enemy in 10-15 men strong groups, some of them from the left. some from the right, trying to wound the soldiers with arrows from afar, after that they rush away on their horses.
They procced without any flags, signs and siege instruments. Their sign to get together is the knocking against a quiver with another one."
And an other description of hung. light cavalry, based on the Annales Scriptorum Rudbergersium (about the battle between Iván Kőszegi and Albrecht, prince of the Ostmark in 1285), and from some other battles between the troups of Máté Csák (warlord of North-West Hungary) and the bohemians in 1315, about a hungarian contingent in the battle of Göllheim, 1298, and in the battle of Mühldorf, 1322, plus a description of a french monk from 1308. (Szabó János: Gondolatok a XI-XIV. századi magyar hadviselésről in: Hadtörténeti közlemények 2001. (~Reflections on hungarian warfare in the 11-14th century-Issues of armor, strategy and tactics)
In the end of the XIIIth century AD the soldiers of the hungarian king had long beards and long, plaited hair, smeared in with grease. Their weapons were only bow and long swords, they got leather armour and in some cases helmets. The hungarians could shoot the bow forwards and backwards too. They didn't like static fighting, so they retreated or chased the enemy.
And an other data from the Chronic of Matteo Villani: in the battle of Nicopolis the french knights (the few who survived) complained about the hungarians: "They can't fight properly, they only could retreat and shoot the bow.
Szamota István: Régi utazók Magyarországon és a Balkán-félszigeten 1054-1777. 96.p. Bp, 1891.  :
1433, Buda: Bertrand de la Brocquier, french knight informed about a tournament, fought on small horses, with easter-type saddles and with shorter lances as in West-Europe.

Posted By: rider
Date Posted: 10-Oct-2007 at 13:52
Can you say what is wrong here? Then I can fix it and not a second earlier...


Posted By: Linda
Date Posted: 04-Jul-2014 at 22:52
My father told me the battle cry in 1954 in uprising against the Soviets was "Topra Magyar" which he roughly translated as "to your souls Hungarians", meaning that you may have my body but not my mind, I don't mind dying for the cause. He lost his brother. The main battle was outside their house. His cousin pulled in the wounded to her house and hid several in the old wine cellars in the hills of Buda (of  Budapest). However, I have not been able to actually confirm that was the battle cry and that is what it means? Can anybody tell me if this was true?

Still Standing upholding civil rights

Posted By: Centrix Vigilis
Date Posted: 08-Jul-2014 at 12:36
Contact the Hungarian consulate in Chicago. Ask to speak to the Cultural attaché for assistance in your question.

The following link gives you their contact info.

And another option is to contact the Hungarian studies Dept at Indian University. They remain the most notable in the United States for the same.

At the very bottom of the following link you will find a contact/questions link.

"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"

S. T. Friedman

Pilger's law: 'If it's been officially denied, then it's probably true'

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