Hungary: Commemorating the Medieval Knightly Sacrifice in the Battle of Szigetvar (June 2015)
The Grand Priory of Hungary, together with the highest authorities of the city of Szigetvar, organised a solemn ceremony in the scene of an important medieval knightly battle in the City's Baratsag Park, and unveiled a commemorative plaque to further underline 21st century chivalry and its historic contrast with medieval chivalry.
The town's fortress, used by the Grand Priory of Hungary for the investiture, was the setting of the Battle of Szigetvar in 1566. It was a sanjak centre at first in Budin Province (1566-1601), later in Kanije Province (1601-1689). There was already a fortress in the marshland back in Celtic and Roman times. The Castle of today was built on an artificial island - created by filling up the swampy area and driving the stream into a canal - in the 15th century. If you walk along the top of its external walls, 4 m thick at some places, you can get great views of the town. The bridge over the inner moat stands at the place where Nikola Subic Zrinski and his soldiers broke out of the inner castle. The equestrian statue of Zrinski (*Zrin in modern Croatia, around 1508. - Szigetvar, 7. September 1566.) commemorates the self-sacrifice of the heroic captain of the castle. It is said that the Turks built the mosque of sultan Suleiman I and the minaret beside it - only part of the latter can be seen today - in the honour of their sultan who died after the castle was conquered.
In 1966, on the 400th anniversary of the siege, Szigetvar regained its old rank of a chartered ancient city. Development began to gather speed. Today it has a population of 12,000. In October 2011, the city received the title Civitas Invicta from the Hungarian Parliament. In 1994, the Hungarian-Turkish Friendship Park (Hungarian: Magyar-Torok Baratsag Park) was established as a public park, dedicated in memorial to the Battle of Szigetvar.
The commemorative plaque was unveiled precisely where the heaviest fighting was reported during the medieval battle of Szigetvar. It is displayed on part of the fortress walls which, as was announced by the City's Mayor and member of the Order, Dr. Peter Vass, will be utilised as a centre for the vulnerable in the region and will be aided and assisted by the members of the Order and the Order's volunteers.
A moving talk was also conducted by the Chaplain of the Commandery, the Reverend Peter Sumegi and the Reverend Gabor Orosz. In order to further underline the need for international cooperation in 21st Century chivalry instead of the military and hawkish happenings in medieval Europe's chivalric outbursts, the Turkish Honorary Consul General was also invited to the event and showed his full appreciation of such initiatives, not only in Hungary but in other parts of the world.
The Grand Chancellor of the Order, the Chev. Max J Ellul, addressed the members of the Order and the guests and dignitaries and dwelt at length on the ecumenical and Hospitaller work of the Order worldwide and congratulated the Hungarian Grand Priory for such an initiative.