B bábi, Tibor

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Bottyán, János (1) (John) (Vak Bottyán) (1643 - Lőrinckáta, 27 September 1709) – Kuruc (rebel), military officer in Prince Ferenc (Francis) Rákóczi II’s War of Independence (1703-1711). He was known among the troops as “Blind Bottyán”. He came from a family of the lower nobility. He started his studies at Sellye, but later became the gatekeeper of the Jesuit College to earn his keep and tuition. As a young man he enrolled as a frontier soldier. First he served as lieutenant in Fort Sellye; later transferred to the cavalry, and from 1683, served in Fort Esztergom; where he carried out his first daredevil action. He made a bet with his comrades that he would go to Fort Érsekújvár (now Nové Zámky, Slovakia) that was garrisoned by 6,000 Turks; and from the minaret he would throw down the muezzin in broad daylight and come out alive. Disguised as a poor peasant he infiltrated the fort and from the balcony of the minaret he threw over the Muslim cleric. He shot the two sentries at the gate; and his waiting comrades ambushed the pursuing Turks; cutting them all down. In 1685 he valiantly defended his fort against Pasha Ibrahim. He fought in the War of Indepencence reclaiming the chain of forts of the southern border district from the Turks. He fought so bravely with the Imperial Army against the Turks that Emperor Leopold promoted him to Colonel and offered him the ownership of a regiment of Hussars. At Gradova in Serbia the valiant charge of his Hussars decided the outcome of the battle. Between 1696 and 1698 he was Military Governor of the districts of Kecskemét, Cegléd and Körös (now Nagykörös). In one of his skirmishes with the Turks he lost his left eye and thus got his nickname “Blind Bottyán”. After the Peace Treaty of Karlóca (1699) (now Sremski Karlovci, Serbia), he retired to his estate and bequeathed an annuity of 3,000 Forints to the Piarist Teaching Order at Nyitra (now Nitra, Slovakia). He was revered in the region as benefactor of the poor. In 1701, during the Spanish War of Succession, he was ordered with his regiment to the River Rhine, from where he was redirected to Hungary to fight against the Hungarian rebels. The Imperial Commander of Fort Esztergom, Baron von Kucklander reported him to the Emperor for making contact with Prince Rákóczi II. For this he was arrested on 16 December 1704, but rescued the very same day by his men. He escaped to Selmecbánya (now Banská Stiavnica, Slovakia), where he swore allegiance to Prince Rákóczi’s War of Idependence. Baron von Kucklander, who was bent on revenge, arrested his wife and she died in prison just a few days after her arrest in 1705. János Bottyán became the most admired legendary hero of the Rákóczi War, the Kuruc War, as Hungarians know it. His banner led to victory after victory in Northern Hungary (Upland, Felvidék, now Slovakia) and in the Transdanubian (Dunántúl) districts of Hungary. At the battle of Nagyszombat (now Trnava, Slovakia) on 26 December 1704, his contingent took the lion’s share in the victory. In the spring of 1705 he erected the Fort of Battyán at Dunakömlőd to secure the crossing of the River Danube and in the same year he expelled all Imperial forces from Transdanubia. In 1707, against overwhelming odds, he executed his campaigning with such brilliant strategy that even his opponents, the Imperial generals, paid tribute to his military genius calling him a master tactician of warfare. In 1708 he was promoted to Supreme Commander, and in the same year he became the Military Governor of the region of the mining cities of Northern Hungary (Upland, now Slovakia). In every battle he participated personally at the most dangerous spots and many times his bravado decided the outcome of the battle. His soldiers followed him with utmost enthusiasm. Despite his ripe age he spent all his time in camp and died in his military tent, a victim of meningitis. He was buried in the church of the Franciscan Friars in Gyöngyös. His statue is at the Rotunda in Budapest. – B: 1133, 0883, 1138, T: 3233.→Freedom Fight of Rákóczi II, Prince Ferenc; Kuruc; Hussars.

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