Thursday, April 16, 2015

N: by Naval Warfare (26 Ways to Die in Medieval Hungary)

In 1051, the Holy Roman Emperor Henry III had it out for Hungary. Again. For the third time. On the throne at the time was András I (the son of Vazul), who also had it with the fighting and the sieges and all that jazz. So, he decided to do something else this time.

The German army came down along the Danube, supported by a large naval force of several ships. They took anchor at Pozsony (Bratislava) for the night. The king took the opportunity to send one of his knights, a man named Zotmund, who was a really good swimmer, out to the ships in the dark. According to legend, Zotmund drilled holes into all the ships and they started to sink slowly; by the time the people on deck noticed, it was already too late. A large portion of the fleet sunk, and the rest of the army went home.

Zotmund is more generally known in Hungary as "Búvár Kund" - "Diver Kund" - and it is assumed that his ability to swim and dive was not common in those times among knights (or even commoners). With that said, swimming in the Danube at night is no small feat, not to mention drilling a hole into oak wood with 11th century tools, which is why a lot of people question the validity of the legend... However: Part of the German fleet did sink in the Danube, for unknown reasons, we know that both from German and from Hungarian sources. So, who knows? Maybe there was a Búvár Kund. Or maybe there were more than one...

18 comments:

  1. I have a mental image of a guy treading water trying to drill holes in ships with a little hand drill :)
    Tasha
    Tasha's Thinkings | Wittegen Press | FB3X (AC)

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    1. Me too. I just love these old legends.

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    2. Right? Had to have one hell of an upper body strength...

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    3. Maybe he had a handle with spikes that he drove into the wooden ship first and then held on to that while he drilled, thereby not having to tread water. Of course it seems like all those tools would weigh him down a bit. dragged a little raft toolbox with him?

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  2. Your posts are making me want to go back to Budapest for another visit.

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  3. Not that I come to think about it: Hungary is crazy good at water polo. This is probably why... :D

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  4. "Hungary is crazy good at water polo." Ha! That must explain it. ;)

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  5. Yes, I just saw what Chrys Fey wrote and remembered the Water Polo players and how most Hungarians enjoy swimming for health, fitness and sport. Maybe there's a genetic connection? LOL

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  6. I love it! I like imagining the German army just standing there thinking, "well, now what?" before shuffling off. Talk about anticlimactic.

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  7. I think it'd take a lot of hand-drilled holes to sink a ship, even slowly. Hope the poor guy didn't get hypothermia while doing it.

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  8. Look, Doctor Who came along with his Tardis, he gave Kund some futuristic tool, and he cracked all these ships open, it's easy. Or...there were more than one Búvár Kund. At the end of the day ships sunk and people died and that's all I care about :D Muhahahaha!

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    1. It would definitely make a great Doctor Who episode... :D

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  9. interesting legend. I wonder ow they did it.

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  10. Definitely a challenge for any macho Hungarian male! I wonder how many holes he had to drill or make to get one ship to sink.
    Maui Jungalow

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  11. So did anyone actually die in this one? If the boats sank slowly everyone probably got out fine. Sure the Germans had to walk home, but it could've been worse.

    Of course they also some explaining to do when they got back. "What the f*ck happened to your boats?? Whaddya mean they just sank??"

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  12. Like a lot of legends there might be something in it. Power tools weren't quite the same as they are now, that's for sure.

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