Előző   Kezdőlap


Published by József Bessenyei



Bálint Török of Enying played a very important, sometimes directly dominant role in the one and a half decade, by which the fate of Hungary was fundamentally determined, from the disaster of Mohács to the loss of Buda. Considering the importance of this epoch, it is a hardly revealed part of our history. The researchers of this period feel especially the want of the biographical approaches; there are not any usable biographies which can satistfy scientific demands about János Szapolyai, István Báthory, Péter Perényi, Pál Várday, mentioning only the most important ones. The required source materials of these persons are hard of access, mostly unexplored and unpublished, probably that's why their elaboration didn't occure up to now.

The main aim of the book is to fill in at least one of these gaps. We have considered it our task to reveal and to collect the material of the life and activity of Bálint Török and to make it known on the basis of the modern source publishing rules, because without them we can not step forward in the understanding of the age.

My undertaking was supported by The board of Historiographical Institute of Hungarian Academy of Science since I could fit it into my personal scheduled work.


Preceeding the start of my data collection on this subject a few source books had already been published which enlightened Bálint Török's activity and the period. Some of them can stand the strict critic of the modern source publishing principles and methods even to day. Thus, the volumes of "Ecclesiastical Memories from the Age of Hungarian Reformation" (Ed.: Bunyitay, Rapaics, Karácsonyi) including almost a complete collection about the relationship of Bálint Török with the Roman Catholic Church (particularly the property-acquisitions and their consequences).

We have to evaluate this book incomplience with the fact, that the discussions related to the refunding of the church properties and the case of priory of Vrana had a great importance in Bálint Török's life story. Friedrich Schuller's publication has got almost the same significance, because this book in the "Ungarische Akten" division of the Haus-Hof Staatsarchiv collects and publishes the retained documents dealing with the history of Erdély between 1526-1538, containing among them the unfortunately few letters about Bálint Török's activity in Erdély.

Our knowledge is enlarged with important information by the series of "Hungarian Parliamentary Memories", too. Bálint Török, as we know, did not displayed his political activity at the diets (except the so called kingless diets), but this book completely published the documents relating to those cases whenever he had taken part or his name came up there. This work rendered a great service by getting us acquainted with the political views of the lord publishing or quotating almost all the documents of his life from the years of the kingless diets. Other earlier source publications also contain documents on Bálint Török's activity, for example the first two volumes of Emilj Laszovsky's "Monumenta Habsburgica", the Zrinyi Archives edited by Samu Barabás, the archives presenting the history of the Héderváry or the Podmaniczky families, but they have merely accidental importance from our point of view.

In the course of our work we compared the published sources to the original ones whenever it was possible. But this comparison was impeded by several facts. As it is known a significant part of the documents had been destroyed in the storms of history, like the archives of the Esterházy family at Pápa or the archives of the Héderváry family. In some cases the documents are hidden or vanished, and not only one among those pieces, which were mentioned by Schuller. But in other ones new versions came to light which differed from the formerly published source (LXI.) and which could tell more than the old documents. The situation is much worse regarding the interpretations. Historiography payed attention only to some parts of Bálint Török's life. From the pioneers we have to mention the name of Béla Németh, who exhaustively deals with the Török family of Enying in his book "The History of Szigetvár" outlining Bálint Török's life story as a connecting part of the item using the basis of a big source material, namely the documents of the Esterházy family's archives, Tinódi'poems, Szerémi's and Istvánffy's works. It is sad, that the author did not have the possibility to complete his researh work in the Viennese archives.

The book of Béla Sebestyén "Bálint Török, the Lord of the Town Pápa" (Bp. 1911) also deserves attention. The aim of the author was to expound in details the way as Bálint Török had acquired the town of Pápa. But, unfortunately he treated the history of the town under the Lord's influence more roughly, than it could be necessary.

The very detailed study of Árpád Károlyi's "Data to the Peace of Nagyvárad and to the History of 1536-1538 Years" published in 1878 in "Századok" utilized the materials of the archives of Vienna, and from our point of view it is very important. The focus of Sándor Takács's popular style work "Lady Bálint Török of Enying based on substantial researches is mainly on the years of Bálint Török's imprisonment in Constantinople. Nowadays in a Ferenc Szakály study a brief description was given about Bálint Török's career, titled "The Forty years of Tolna County after the Battle of Mohács".

As we can see, both the source publications about Bálint Török and the interpretations generally presented only a few fragments of Bálint Török's biography and usually on a very restricted source-base.

Thus, the aim of our book was to extend the source base concerning Bálint Török to the highest possible degree and to publish the found documents. For the sake of this cause we examined thoroughly all the archives which held out the promise of success. So we looked over entirely the Haus-Hof-und Statsarchív, the Hofkammerarchív, the Archív der Stadt Wien, the National Archives of Budapest, the Manuscript Collection of the National Széchényi Library, then followed the archives of numerous cities and towns, counties and ecclesiastical institutes existed in the territory of the former Habsburg empire, and finally came all the archives of families and institutes from where according to our supposition any kind of documents could be originated or collected about Bálint Török's life.

We have made the greatest profit out of examining those collections, which came into existance during the document-creating work of the Habsburg goverment offices. We have to mention on the first place the series of "Ungarische Akten of HHStA which continuously preserved both the outlines of the delivered documents and the received letters and accounts. The Hungarian Treasury (Magyar Kamara) also have preserved numerous papers about the activity of Bálint Török. (Litterae ad cameram exaratae, Benignae resolutiones). Particularly the Archives of the Hungarian Treasury is worth of mentioning. (Acta Publica, Neoregestrata Acta).

Among the family archives, the Esterházy's preserved in our days in the National Archives, has got the Török family's documents, which were known but insufficiently used by the former researchers. These charters were collected in the archives of the ducal line, and they are mainly (but not only) estate donating documents.(The deficient serie of the documents became complete only after the analization of the royal books.)

The time maltreated the relative families' archives, too, and only a fragment of the Sulyok family's achives has survived from the more important ones. Thus, the examination of those archives of which owners were somehow in connection with Bálint Török's career has special benefit. The most successful was the systematical investigation of the Nádasdy's and the Batthyány family's archives. We have a large but sporadicly survived quantity of documents about the circle of vassals. Unfortunately, there are only few uninterrupted document-lines about Bálint Török's vassals. The correspondence of Katalin Pemfflinger and her castellans of Bér during 1540-1541 can be mentioned as a refreshing exception (10 pieces).

Our goal was to make known all those documents which were issued by Bálint Török, his wife, or his vassals, futhermore the papers and letters ("missales") having been written to him till August, 1541, when his imprisonment began. (Though the testament of Imre Török from 1515 is out of the above mentioned time limit, its publication seemed essential from the aspect of introducing our subject). So we do not have to give reasons on the time limit, because Bálint Török played part in the Hungarian political life up to that point.

From the documents of later date we wanted to publish either those which were in connection to Bálint Török's activity at that time or informed us about Katalin Pemfflinger's husband liberating plans.

The other big part of the published documents were not issued by Bálint Török, but somehow they were concerned to him or helped the understanding of Bálint Török's personality and activity. For the large number of the remained documents of that type we had to use a moderate choice during their selection.

The archives contain 289 letters. The whole text of 51 letters have already been published, that's why we publish here only their abstracts. In our collection of documents we gave the whole texts only in those cases, where according to our examination the earlier publication was inexact or new versions had emerged, which essentially differed from the previously printed wording. This book, however, contains all of the documents which came to light only as a fragmentary publication or as an abstract (their numbers are 9).

From the published papers 51 pieces were set out by Bálint Török, 17 by Katalin Pemfflinger, and 17 by one of their "familiares". The number of the letters they had got were 49.

At the publication of the sources we used the publishing rules of the Hungarian Parliamentary Memories (In: Századok 1974/2. p.436-475. Sep. too.) But we had to take into consideration, that the above mentioned rules were worked out for the transcription of XVII. century papers. That's why in some cases we needed to approach them to the publishing principles of XVI.century documents. Thus, the following changes were necessary during the publication of the texts:


The line of the papers show the chronological order of their origin. Thus, the pieces of our collection of records illustrate very clearly the turning points of Bálint Török's career or at least reinforce them. Looking at the chronology of the documents the following biographical main points take form:

  1. 1521-1527: The youth; joining the "national king".
  2. 1527: Bálint Török commits himself to the Habsburgs; the organization of his passing over to King Ferdinánd's party.
  3. 1527-1528: Campaign in Upper-Hungary.
  4. 1528-1530: Bálint Török, the head of Temesvár.
  5. 1531-1532: the so called kingless diets and the agreement of Berzence.
  6. 1535-1536: the acquisition of the priory of Vrana and the efforts to maintain the church properties.
  7. 1536-1537: Bálint Török's going over to the side of János Szapolyai; the events concerning the defection; the Katzianer-case; the Transdanubian fights.
  8. 1540-1541: Bálint Török as the guardian of János Zsigmond; the campaigns of Vels and Roggendorf; the loss of Buda; falling into captivity.
  9. After 1541: Katalin Pemfflinger's struggle to keep the estates and to release Bálint Török.

The pieces of the archives, however, supply us not only with restricted biographical facts. We can see the internal political activity of the aristocratic circle, which played crucial role in the public life of that decisive decades and of which leaders thought the governing of the country easy to get hold from the weakened royal power. Besides a lot of letters deal with the activity of Bálint Török's relatives (István Pemfflinger, the Sulyok family of Lekcse, the Fáncsi family of Gordova) and servitors (János Somogyi, the Kiss family of Szabadka, Márk Horváth, Gergely Horváth, Mihály Bornemissza of Bark etc.), and with their role in the service of Bálint Török. With the help of this book we can follow with attention the formation of the estates and incomes of Bálint Török, moreover his contribution- and tithe-collecting work.

This book tries to help first of all the researches concerning the quarter century after Mohács, and mainly to contribute to the examination of political history of the period. But we hope that the army historians and the economic historians of the age can profit by the documents, too. The work also can count on the interest of those who deals with local history.

Last but not least these papers can be well used in the fields of education and teaching.


Publication on the subject: "The Captive of the Seven-Towers". Bp. 1981.

Előző   Kezdőlap