The Ottoman siege – the “mediaeval Battle of Stalingrad” one could say – marked the first time the seemingly unstoppable Ottoman Army was halted. Eger Castle would secure the border of Christian Europe for 100 years until the Ottoman Army eventually captured it 50 years later. The stakes were as high as they can get: the success or failure of the siege would determine whether Catholic and Protestant Europe would be saved from the Muslim conquest led by Suleiman the Magnificent. In this sense, the battle was not only about the spoils but also about faith.
Key operations of heroic defense
Later dubbed the “Hercules of Christianity”, Captain István Dobó had the settlement of Eger around the castle burnt down so the besiegers could not use the houses for protection. The citizens had to move into the castle, where half a year’s worth of food was stockpiled.
The spire of the cathedral in the castle court was turned into a cannon platform. The defenders were equipped with the typical handheld firearms of the period: matchlock and flintlock guns and, mostly, arquebuses – the latter had to be rested on a support rod while being fired. However, the defenders also had a secret weapon of their own devising: the “volley gun” – a set of 28 arquebuses fixed on a wheeled wooden frame – a contraption that looked as though it had been invented by Leonardo Da Vinci!
Come and discover this castle where, with the traditional weaponry and ammunition running low, the besiegers climbing the walls were welcomed with a dousing of hot tar, and women fought alongside the men – the fortress that withstood the attack of an army that outnumbered the defenders 15 to 1! The Ottoman army had 140 cannons to support the siege, while the defenders could deploy only 24. But the unwavering resilience and resolve of the defenders and the onset of winter, combined with food shortages and a devastating plague in the Ottoman camp, forced the besiegers to abandon their plans and retreat.