Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Turkish Yoke Is Not a Joke

The Turkish invasion of Hungary is a sensitive, but important part of the country’s history. There are a few things that we might want to thank the Turks for, like the baths, but Hungarians mostly talk about the 150 years of the Turkish yoke as a miserable period.  The subjugation of the empire started in 1541 and lasted until 1699. This era inspirited several works of art, The Eclipse of the Crescent Moon being the most well-known.

Géza Gárdonyi’s novel describes the siege of Eger at 1552. My personal experience with the novel, similarly to many of my peers, started when I had to read the book back in elementary school as one of the longest compulsory readings. I was quite young at the time, but I know for sure that after the slightly sluggish beginning I really enjoyed the book. It might have several reasons and it’s still hard for me to pinpoint one.

First, there is a love story in it, which makes the siege even more exciting. For some reason, when the lovers are in danger everything seems to be more adventurous. If you don’t like love combined with adventure, the battle scenes might still make you keep reading and you can also learn a lot about the period’s martial technology. Still not interested? Take a look at the descriptions of the two armies, the two societies and their cultures (including religion).

Although the book is quite long, (still not an Anna Karenina) it walks you through a major battle of the Turkish invasion that had a surprising end. Surprising, based on the size and the equipment of the opponent armies. Needless to say, the Hungarians were in minority but they managed to defeat the Turks and protect the fortress. The plot of the novel is based on the true story of the battle, starring real-life heroes such as István Dobó and is a more or less faithful retelling of the army's success. 

I can't decide which version of the titles I like more. The Hungarian, which is Stars of Eger, refers to all the heroes who defended the fortress. The English, however, reflects the Turkish symbol (at least that's what it reminds me of), so it is quite accurate too. Share your thoughts on this question (or anything else) in a comment!

Available on Amazon.

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