The beast snorted. Its sharp hooves rose high into the air. A moment later they came crashing down onto the rocky earth.
Gyorgy Dozsa felt the thrill of the horse’s power racing through his own loins. His lust reddened eyes reflected savage delight at the sight of destruction in the valley below.
“Soon they will return!” Dozsa said aloud. “They will bring with them the fragile daughters of the magnates. My friend, save your strength. The time of action is not yet upon us.”
Dozsa scanned the winding Transylvanian trail. Impatience grew within him. All of the bestiality which was his heritage flamed in the need to bring agony and degradation. But there was more to his anticipation than mere blood lust. While he would revel in the savagery which was about to take place, it was the far dream which remained his overpowering motive. Once again he built the mental picture of leading his jacqueries to final victory. He saw himself accepting the scepter and crown as king of Hungary.
“Let the peasants play with the women. Let them fire the magnates’ estates and slaughter their children. Let the jacqueries bathe in the blood of the fallen nobles and they will follow me to hell and beyond,” Dozsa reasoned.
His thoughts were interrupted by the pounding of hooves along the trail. They came racing towards him. Even now he could make out the slim forms of young women, their nubile bodies doubled over the withers of the mounts. Their screams rang shrill on the mountain air. Driven by the frenzy of their fear, the girls had lost all sense of modesty. Their legs flashed naked in the sunlight. Wildly they clawed at the rough hands which held them in position.
With satisfaction Dozsa surveyed the brutal way in which his men handled the captives. The madness was large within him now. “Vengeance!” he cried over the sounds of terror from below.
For her part Katherine Zapolya squirmed mightily in the arms of the rider who held her in his suffocating grip. The jarring, throbbing motion of the rose sent agony racing unrestrained through her soft body. The strong smells of horse and rider surrounded her until she knew she must faint from them.
Yet the thing which clutched her in its vise was the terror of what was to happen to her later. She had not been unaware of the presence of Gyorgy Dozsa’s men in the area. She had heard the terrified whispers of her elders as they mentioned the renegade’s name.
“Dozsa has sworn death to all magnates!” they said. “Rather would I see my daughters in the hands of Satan himself than touched by the Hun.”
All Hungary trembled as his deeds were recounted. The man would become king and the blood of ten thousand noble maidens would be used to toast his coronation.
The rider’s body pressed into Katherine Zapolya from behind. She felt the hard sinew of his arms constricting around her like a giant snake. His bulbous lips nuzzled the hollow of her throat.
“Please!” she moaned. “In the name of all that’s decent.” Her words drowned out in the thunder of hooves.
Moments later the renegade cavalry whirled into the clearing where their leader waited. Katherine felt herself being dragged downward from her mount. She stared down into the lust twisted face of the huge man who held her legs in a grip of iron.
Katherine’s outraged cry ended in a sobbing gasp as her body was hurled to the rough ground. She lay for long moments, too stunned by pain and fear to offer any resistance. Dozsa stood spraddle legged above her. The muscles of his heavy legs bulged. His mighty biceps flexed and unflexed in a show of unbelievable raw power. Little flecks of drool dripped from the hairs of his mustache.
“Death to the magnates!” he whispered. His voice carried the sting of a whiplash. Katherine Zapolya tensed in his grip. She fought with all of her might as her other arm was drawn behind her. But her strength was no match for Dozsa’s. The cords which he used to bind her wrists were thin and hard. They dug into the tenderness of her flesh. Worst of all, Katherine realized, was the prominence given to her upthrust breasts by the backward strain on her fettered arms. The twin symbols of virginal promise acted as fuses to set the conflagration of twisted desires in Dozsa.
Brutally the rebel leader wrestled the helpless girl to the ground. New ropes encircled her wildly thrashing ankles, drawing them together until the slim bones grated together.
Gyorgy Dozsa’s two hundred pounds of muscle pinned Katherine to the abrasive stones. She arched her back, using all her strength in an attempt to dislodge her tormentor. The action brought new agony as the sharp edged bits of rock tore at her flesh.
Before the inky blackness oozed over her, Katherine Zapolya heard the words which doomed her fate, “You I will save for the ultimate.”
As she lay in the merciful cloak of semi-consciousness Katherine heard wild sounds, crashing like storm driven waves blasting the shore. They undulated from low strangled groans to hissing cries of outrage. The sounds dragged her backwards into a world tinged with horror and blood.
Her eyes fluttered open. The sight caused a shriek of unbridled terror and revulsion to break from her.
The jacqueries had dismounted now. Their spirited horses pawed the unyielding ground, searching in desperate hope of uncovering a blade of grass.
In the center of the circle lay Katherine’s 22-year-old sister, Jadwiga. Her hands had been tied together and now were stretched far above her head. Already her damask skirt had been shredded from her limbs. Katherine noticed the redness around Jadwiga’s thighs where the cords had cut off the circulation, distending the veins and arteries with imprisoned blood. She saw the wriggling toes which bespoke the abject condition of her beloved sister. She saw the heavy ropes which had been laced through the ankle and wrist bindings.
Now Gyorgy Dozsa crouched beside his lovely victim. Spurning the preferred knife, he set about stripping the last of the garments from Jadwiga with his bare hands. Where his fingers traveled cruel scratches and bruises appeared on the exposed nakedness of the lovely girl. Dozsa's men tightened the circle around their leader and his prey.
"Death to all the magnates!" they chanted. The words were repeated over and over in a soulless cacophony of bestiality.
"Death to all the magnates!" Dozsa responded, his knee grinding into the pink flatness of Jadwiga's belly. The girl's cheeks puffed out as the wind was driven from her violated body. She writhed in one final attempt to be free of the oppressive weight.
Moments later Jadwiga Zapolya was snapped into the air, her body twisting in a tight line as the sweating, slathering, straining war horses to which she'd been attached began their fearful journey of vengeance.
The ropes which led from her arms and legs to the saddle horns of the Hungarian mounts twanged tight with a sickening snap. Jadwiga's overextended limbs bulged as the tendons knotted around her outraged muscles.
Jadwiga's unadorned beauty now wore a mantle of glistening sweat. She twisted her head from side to side. She heard the quirt slash against the flanks of the horses. Her already overelongated body felt the new strains.
"Katherine! Don't let them!" Jadwiga shrieked.
Katherine strained at her own bonds. Now she was mindless of her own misery, unheeding of the tendrils of blood which gathered along her own spine.
There was a sickening snap of bone, a final shriek of horror and then Jadwiga's head lolled backward between her outstretched arms. One can only hope that she was already dead when Gyorgy Dozsa seized the sharp knife and hacked away at her limbs. The blade snicked through the straining tendons, facilitating the work of the killer horses in drawing and quartering a girl whose only sin was to have been born the madman's mortal enemy.
But for Katherine Zapolya, an eon of torment had merely begun. Gyorgy Dozsa had special plans for her. He lifted her from the ground, thrust her across the broad back of his mount and in a swirling cloud of rock dust thundered upwards towards the craggy caves which marked the Transylvanian summit. There she learned what it was to submit to a fiend who approached her with blood of her kin still hot on his hands. There she was kept fettered like a farm animal while her drink crazed master devised new and abominable outrages to perform on her shrinking body. There after a week of intolerable pain, she finally met the sought after release of death.
If Gyorgy Dozsa was a fearful spectre of torture, pillage and murder, the times in which he lived were fearful. It might be said that the times had created the Hun From Hell.
This was the Hungary of 1514, a country in ferment where the noblest of purposes could soon become an excuse for rape and torture.
Hungary had only two classes of people. There were the magnates or nobles. And there were the Budos Parazst, the literal translation of which is stinking peasant.
Life was excruciatingly hard for the budos parazst. They tilled unyielding land for masters who ruled them with the whip, the knife and the rack. They dreamed only of some form of escape.
At last a promise arose. Gyorgy Dozsa, himself a magnate by birth, was selected by Cardinal Bacocz to lead a holy crusade against the Turkish infidels. The selection was a wise one at the time for whatever else might be said about Dozsa, he could not be faulted for bravery.
Dozsa now went about recruiting, an army to follow him into battle against the forces of Muhamet. But no one could have foreseen the wild rush of the budos parazsts to swell Dozsa's ranks. In military service they saw the possibility of their own deliverance from the tyrannies of the magnates.
From every village they came rushing, leaving behind them family and possessions. The magnates saw their fields going unforrowed, their harvests ungathered. In a brutal land, brutal countersteps were taken.
With a savagery which rivaled Dozsa's, they fell upon the wives and daughters of the budos parazsts. One of their favorite tricks was to mass rape a young woman. Then as she lay before them, to hog tie her to a tree, her naked white throat stretched taut. Then as if she were a farm animal, they would butcher her, cutting her jugular vein, hacking into her viscera, laying bare her entrails.
In a diary Dozsa kept, he wrote, “Today we came upon a village and found the magnates still at work. They had stripped the peasant women of all of their clothes. They'd bound their hands behind them and hung them upside down in the morning sun. The tree branches swayed and groaned under the weight of their burden. My men saw the bodies of their lovers swinging to and fro in the breeze. As we watched, the magnates moved among the trees. The sounds were like the squeals of slaughtered pigs. Blood was everywhere. I gave the signal to attack. Vengeance was ours! Death to all the magnates!”
It is difficult to determine at this late date just how much sympathy Dozsa had for his own men. If he were honestly as appalled at butchery as his diary would indicate, it seems unlikely that he would have sponsored his own mass rapes and blood orgies.
Yet he was aware of his need to keep his men hating their former masters. For in their hatred could come the key to the locked treasure which Dozsa so dearly wanted. He had no dream other than to become the king of Hungary. His men would make that dream come true.
The magnates did not wilt under Dozsa’s brigandry. They fought back remorselessly and savagely. Whenever they received word that a group of peasants had thrown down their crude farm instruments to join Dozsa’s army, they fell upon the families left behind and exacted a toll so fearful that its aberrations may only be hinted at.
Now the magnates recruited an army which was made up of professional soldiers under the leadership of Hungary’s top noblemen.
History was preparing a grisly touch of irony as a climax to the macabre drama. Remember well that Dozsa was a nobleman who turned renegade in order to lead the despised peasants. Remember well that Jadwiga and Katherine Zapolya were denuded, deflowered and tortured to death by Dozsa himself.
Then turn your attention to the gathering armies of the magnates. Mark the name of its commanding general well. For it was none other than Janos Zapolya — uncle of the martyred virgins.
Destiny ruled that Zapolya’s army must meet the rabble of Dozsa in one last orgy of blood letting. The moment came towards the end of 1514. (The exact date has become obscured.) No field encounter outdid the battle for unmitigated savagery. The ghosts of thousands of slaughtered women hung over the field shrieking for vengeance against both the magnates and the budos parazsts. Retribution for the evil deeds which both sides had committed came in the howling shrieks of men who saw their living members hacked off even before they fell to the ground.
But ill trained and ill equipped, the peasants were finally put to rout. A few survivors were captured and one of them was Gyorgy Dozsa himself. Brought in chains before Janos Zapolya, Dozsa was to hear his hideous sentence intoned.
“On the morrow, Gyorgy Dozsa, your coronation will be proclaimed throughout the length and breadth of Hungary,” Zapolya informed the renegade.
The following morning as muffled drums beat through the city of what now is Budapest, Gyorgy Dozsa was led into a throng filled square. A few of his loyal peasants were whipped into line behind him.
There, mounted on a roaring fire, was a huge iron chair which was to serve as Dozsa’s throne. Already the heavy iron glowed red hot. Dozsa was ordered to seat himself upon the improvised torture instrument. As the flesh of his buttocks and thighs began to sizzle and turn moist with blood blisters, a red hot sceptre was thrust into his hands.
To carry out the mock coronation to its ultimate of horror, a metal band which had been fashioned into a crown and heated white hot was forced down over his head.
The gruesome repast consisted of strips of Dozsa’s living flesh which were hacked off his body and presented to be eaten by his budos parazsts moments before they too were consigned to a waiting bonfire.
In tribute to the wild bravery of the renegade nobleman it must be said that he suffered his fate without so much as one outcry or plea for mercy.
Thus ended the peasant revolt of 1514. Thus ended the career of the wild Hun, Gyorgy Dozsa who had fashioned himself after his barbaric ancestors. Thus ended a year when 70,000 magnate and peasant women had died in shrieking agony, the victims of a war they never understood. It was a war without heroes, a war without chivalry, a war without mercy. In a way it typified all war.