Hierarchical Path: War of the Spanish Succession (Main Page) >> Personalities >> Ocskay, Lászlo
Ocskay, Lászlo (Ladislav)
Hungarian Colonel (1703-1705), Brigadier-General (1705-1708), Imperial Colonel (1708-1710)
around 1680, Očkov, Royal Hungary (in present-day Slovakia)
died 3 January 1710, Neuhäsel (present-day Nové Zámky/SK), Royal Hungary
Lászlo was the son of Christoph Ocskay and Eva Fitter.
In 1698, after having completed his studies at the Jesuit College of Tyrnau (present-day Trnava/SK), Lászlo Ocskay joined the Johann Pálffy Hussars and fought against the Turks. The same year, he was punished for an unknown crime and had one of his ears cut. He later killed a soldier of his company and fled to Temesvár where he converted to Islam.
In 1699, Ocskay rejoined Johann Pálffy Hussars.
In 1700, Johann Pálffy Hussars became Ebergényi Hussars.
Late in 1701, Ebergényi Hussars were sent to Northern Italy to fight the French. Due to his past problems, Ocskay could not hope to reach a higher rank. Therefore, he left the Empire and went to France where he reached at least the rank of lieutenant. After a short time, he returned to Austria again.
In 1703, Ocskay married the widow Ilona Tiszo. The same years, he joined the ranks of Ferenc II Rákóczi's rebels. Ocskay rapidly reached the rank of colonel and he raised a horse regiment. In the second half of the year, the rebels, under the command of Ocskay, marched by the Komitat of Gemer to Upper Hungary (Slovakia). The garrisons of the smaller castles capitulated without opposing any resistance and the rebels were soon masters of the castles of Oždany, Hajnáčka, Krásná Hôrka, Fiľakovo and of the towns of Lučenec and Rimavská Sobota (all in present-day Slovakia). Ocskay soon became known as “Rákóczi's Thunderbolt”. On 31 October near Levenz (present-day Levice/SK), Ocskay's cavalry was defeated by Imperial troops under command of FM Schlik. On 15 November, Bercsényi at the head of some 17,000 rebels reached Altsohl (present-day Zvolen/SK). After initial skirmishes, Johann Boťán, the 60 years old hero of the Turkish Wars, challenged the 23 years old Ocskay, according to an old tradition, to a duel in front of their troops. Both were wounded during this duel. The rebels then entered into Altsohl but were soon driven back.
In May 1704, the rebels received intelligence about the route of an Imperial Corps and prepared a trap near Schmölnitz (present-day Smolenica/SK). Bercsényi could count on 15,000 mostly untrained men. Commander Ocskay posted his troops across the road leading to Skalica while Bercsényi took position behind Trstín with Károly's cavalry and some Hajduks. On 28 May in the afternoon, Ritschan, the commander of the Imperial corps, seeing that he was facing a superior number of rebel forces, ordered his corps to retire in two columns. In the night of 28 to 29 May around 2:00 a.m., Ocskay attacked the heads of Ritschan's columns, while Bercsényi and Károlyi almost simultaneously attacked the rear of the marching columns. Imperial troops could not form line in the very narrow valley where they were marching and were attacked on all sides by the rebels. In the morning of 29 May, only 300 men Ritschan's Corps managed to reach the village Jablonica but all their baggage and guns had been left behind. The rebels then surrounded Jablonica. In the afternoon, Ritschan, who had been wounded, surrendered.
In the Spring of 1705, Ocskay operated along the Vág River (present-day Váh/SK) and occupied the Castle of Szomolyán (Smolenice/SK) where he seized large supplies destined for for Trencsén and Leopoldstadt. Rákóczi promoted Ocskay to Brigadier-General.
In 1707, Rákóczi gave to Ocskay wonderful properties near Stropkov/SK.
In August 1708, after the battle of Trencsén, who undermined the morale of the rebels, Johann Count Pálffy persuaded Ocskay, whom he knew very well, to change allegiance. On 28 August, Ocskay and his regiment joined the Imperial army where Ocskay served as colonel.
On 31 December 1709, Ocskay was at the Castle of Vrbová/SK to celebrate New Year's Eve. Jávorek, the rebel commander of Neuhäsel (present-day Nové Zámky/SK) was informed of the presence of Ocskay in this castle and captured him on his return.
In the first days of 1710 at Neuhäusel, Ocskay was sentenced to death for his betrayal. He should be impaled but his brother Alexander, who served in the castle, pleaded for him. On 3 January, Ocskay was beheaded on the market place of Neuhäusel where, nowadays, a memorial stone indicates the place where he was executed.
N.B.: the texts on the period extending from 1703 to 1709 are mostly derived from our articles depicting the various campaigns, battles and sieges.
Harald Skala for the initial version of this article