The Battle of Rozgony

The Battle of Rozgony - June 15th, 1312

For several years Charles Robert of Anjou tried without any success to break the alliance between Palatine Amade (Amadeus) Aba, Palatine Csak and Palatine Kan of Transylvania, in an attempt to be crowned King of Hungary. At one point, he realised that it would be much easier and advantageous for him to concentrate in breaking up the coalition between Aba and Kan. By doing this, he deprived Palatine Aba and Palatine Csak from receiving any future military help from Transylvania should he ever choose to attack their Northern Hungarian domains. Csak's and Aba's lands were connected and protected by the natural fortification of the Carpathian Mountains. On the other hand, Transylvania was separated from Felvidek (Upper Hungary - present-day Slovakia) by a large mass of flat plains of the County of Zemplen, with the Zemplen Mountain range between the two. As anticipated, Charles invaded this region and took partial possession of Castle Munkacs and Castle Liblou. Shortly afterwards in 1311, he had two of Palatine Aba's sons assassinated in Kassa, Aba County. After the murder, Charles negotiated a deal with Palatine Aba and placed a large contingent of his troops in the region and began to work on a sinister plan to destroy the local ethnic ruling Nobility.
In April 1312, Charles arrived with his army in Kassa in hope of receiving support from the local German colonists against his adversaries. Instead, he met with a huge opposition from Aba's army. Six of Amadeus's sons, well seasoned and experienced knights, together with Csak's contingence were an overwhelming power even for the Angevin pretender, who quickly left Kassa and besieged Castle Saros, (Saros County) instead. Luck was running out for Charles there as well. The Castle was well fortified, and the defenders had a good supply of food and fresh water. The Captain of the Castle was an old friend and allay of the Aba family, Lord Balassa, Master of the County of Zolyom and the County of Pozsony.
During the seige of the Castle Saros, Lord Csak's army of 15,000 strong was already marching to the aid Abas. Out of this number, 1,700 were experienced knights. The army was led by Lord David Aba, also known as the Aba the Handsome, a legend in his own time. Charles quickly recognized the need for evasive tactics and politely retreated to the City of Locse (Levoca in present-day Slovakia) where he found refuge and the support of the local Saxons. At that point Aba's army turned back towards the City of Kassa to besiege it, in hope of destroying King's garrison within. Meanwhile, King Charles with his new 1,000-men strong infantry unit of Szepes Saxons was marching south by the Hernad river on to Demeter Aba camp. The countryside west of the city was covered with heavy forests. Therefore Charles decided to circumvent Demeter's camp and move towards Roszgony on the River Torysa. The Torysa River in this area is narrow and gentle. The river valley is well suited for battle, especially with heavy cavalry. When the Abas learned that Charles was on the move, they terminated their siege of the city of Kassa and went to meet him. Aba's army took the more advantageous position on the western slopes near a small settlement of Rozgony (Roshanovce), overlooking the Tarca (Torysa) river valley. King Charles had no other choice than to take the position on the open fields in the valley and wait to be attacked by his opponents.

David Aba wanted the battle to be a short and swift. He commanded his army to concentrate on the position of the King himself. The first engagement between the armies was hard with heavy losses, mostly on the King's side. Lord Balassa, with a few of his knights, managed to fight their way right to the inner circle of the King's column. Some of the King's best knights fell and among them even the royal banner bearer. At this point, everyone was expecting that the King's army would flee.

Experienced Balassa, with his knights, found themselves in the thick of it. King Charles's men were falling down fast, and the pressure was increasing from all sides. Most of Aba's and Csak's commanders and knights were all around the Kings banner. During the battle, the left wing of Aba's column became weakened. This was the precise area which was facing the Knights of the Order of Saint John, whose duty of the day was to protect the interests of the Church and those of Charles Robert of Anjou. During this moment, the opportunity presented itself for them to take advantage of the situation and from behind they charged Aba's main body of Knights, who had the King surrounded. This weakness in Aba's line was also taken advantage by the Saxon. Unexpected allied forces of Aba instantly found themselves greatly overpowered and defending themselves. During this bloody encounter, Lord Balassa and several members of the Aba family were slain. Shortly afterwards, when it became obvious that the King may win, a contingence of German bourgeoisie volunteers from Kassa attacked Aba's forces from the left and took advantage of an already predictable situation.

The battle is described by eye witnesses and historians as one of the most violent battles that the Angevins had ever fought. Charles Robert of Anjou left the battlefield as the victor, and the people of Hungary lost more than the Crown of Saint Stephen. Officially, the country become a vassal state to the Angevin dynasty for the next 80 years, and the rewriting of Hungarian history began.

The Aftermath...

Rozgony

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