01 October 2019

Wearing quilted jackets, trousers and shoes, and fur hats with earflaps,  armed with bows and various types of white weapons the Mongols  reached Eastern Europe on horseback. This is about the extremely disciplined and strictly hierarchical army of the Mongol Empire, whose commander was Batu-chan (1205-1255), grandson of the famous ruler  Genghis Khan (1162-1227).


Around 1240, Batu-chan founded his grandfather's empire in the western part of the Mongolian state called Golden Orda. His army set off to the West and conquered Kievan Rus. The Mongol invasion strategy, which had intelligence units informing the relationship  of European kings was divided into several phases. It was described in detail by one of the army commanders Subedeja-bagaatura. The Northern Legion consisted of about 20,000 horsemen which was to invade Poland and the Czech Republic.  His task was to recruit Polish Prince Henry II the Pious and his ally the Czech King< Wenceslaus I.


The goal of the southern legion was the armed attack on the Kingdom of Hungary. As intended, on February 13, 1241, the army of the Golden Horde Empire plundered the Polish city of Sandomierz. On March 22 they plundered Kraków On April 9, at the battle of Legnica, Prince Henry II the Pious, who headed the coalition of troops of many Polish principalities died.  Winning the battle with the Poles enabled the Mongols to set out for Hungary.


At that time, Bela IV sat on the throne of the Kingdom of Hungary. After Kiev's occupation of the Golden Horde. Bela IV began to prepare for  fight and decided to build defensive castles, including the Vršatec Castle located in the Trencin region. It was one of the highest fortified castles at an altitude of 725 m a.s.l. built on  limestone rocks as the foundation. The upper castle had an internal tower, which was the dominant defense of the entire complex.


Ultimately, the army of the Golden Horde never reached the Vršatec Castle region, but traversed the ranges of the Carpathian Mountains. They burned the city of Vacov along the way and fought on April 11,  a decisive battle on the plain of Mohi on the river Sajó. As a result the Hungarian army practically ceased to exist. Some news stopped the Mongols from further expansion of Europe. Namely, at the death of the then ruler of the Mongol empire, Ugedey, the third son of Genghis Khan, Batu-chan withdrew his troops to be present in the division of the Empire. At the end of the 13th century, the Vršatec Castle became the property of the Hungarian nobleman Matúš Čák. In 1680, the castle was burned down, and after reconstruction 27 years later, it was blown up and was never rebuilt again. To this day, its ruins remain, which are enveloped by a lush mixed forest.

The best preserved part of the lower castle is the palace, whose walls with window openings have survived to the height of the first floor and are clearly visible from the west side of the hill. The western defensive wall and tower above the cliff look worse, of which only small fragments have survived. Of other buildings of the lower castle there are small pieces of walls and foundations partly hidden in the ground and embankments. From the upper castle, only fragments of the oldest square tower and defensive walls have survived. This part of the castle is particularly vulnerable to erosion, subsequent stones fall off.  It is noted that the upper castle lies more than 90 meters above the lower one. This is the largest difference in height between the objects of the same castle in Slovakia. Several dozen meters of approach on steep rocks makes the upper castle one of the most difficult to access in Slovakia.


Hotel Vršatec was built at the foot of the castle. There is a view of the picturesque Vršatec rocks and Prussian surroundings. These areas are very close to me personally, and every time I come to Slovakia, I try to visit Vršatec and rest in the forest and mountain streams.



Mongols at the gates of the former Kingdom of Hungary Clad

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