Chizay - a legendary story of love and wine
CHIZAY – is one of the biggest wine-producing complexes of Zakarpattia region. It is found in the ancient wine-producing area of Europe, where the conditions for winemaking are just perfect. Here the mild sun light is wonderfully combine with optimal rainfall amount, and mountain landscape covers the vineyards from northern winds. Soil, full of minerals and micronutrient elements adds a unique taste to the grapes, and wine gains a very special nature.
By XIII century the citizens of Beregovsky village among their main duties have found winemaking. This fact was mentioned in the chronicles of 1200-s. There are also some written evidences stating that the Hungarian king Bela the IV in the year 1247, and later king Louis the Great and Louis the II have highly evaluated wines from Beregovsky.
We can find statistic information about rapid development of winemaking at Beregovsky plant in 17- 19 centuries from the information, that is preserved until our days: at latifundia of Beregovsky village in 1762 there were 1874 hectoliters of wine produced, and in 1768 (only in 6 years) – this volume was 2,5 times as more (about 4464 hectoliters).
The wineproducing lands, where Chizay is located, are already mentioned in the cartographical records of Hungary from late 17 century.
And this is not a coincidence. Exactly at that time these lands from a small estate transformed into supplier of the monarchs – the inhabitants of Mukachevo castle, and later of French and Polish kings, tsar Peter I and Catherine the Great.
Let us find out the history of these lands and origin of the word “Chizay” with the help of analysis of Hungarian historical documents and verbal legends.
In the beginning of 1200-th king Ishtwan the II has gifted a part of Beregovsky lands to one his faithful court assistants named Chepan. In 1230 these lands were inherited by son of Chepan, named Chiz.
Since that time these landed properties gained their name Chiz-Tai – which can be translated from Hungarian as “Chiz mansion”.
Following centuries have made their own corrections and changed the pronunciation and spelling from “Chiz-Tai” to “Chizay” . Rakozi royal dynasty takes its beginning from the Chiza family.
Particularly in this area viniculture was widely spread – mostly by monks and priests.
Wonderfully healing wine nectar was consumed those days not only during the celebrations – this was an every day ritual for the people, since the water was often infected with different diseases and was not good for drinking. Since 1660s the lands of Chizay and their neighborhood were under ownership of Ferenz Rakozi’s I. In year 1666 he married beautiful Ilona Zrini – immensely talented and rarely educated woman of that time.
Ilona married prince Ferenz Rakozi I when she was 17, and gave birth to their three children – Diordya (died in babyhood), Ferenz (later prince Ferenz Rakozi II) and daughter Julianna.
Ilona’s and Ferenz marriage was described as a happy one.
They lived in a wonderful castle of Sharoshpotok and also in the Makovetsky castle (now village of Chenadievo, Mukachevo district, Zakarpattia region).
But Ilona’s mother-in-law Sophia Bathori hated her daughter-in-law, and, after the early death of Ferenz I, in 1676, in order to avoid conflicts, the young beautiful widow had no other option rather than to move with her son and daughter to Rakozi mansion in the Borshi village (now east Slovakia).
The other important reason for a move was the risk of kuruz raids. These were the armed detachments of Hungarian rebels, who often attacked mansions of Sophia Bathori in Zakarpattia, since she was famous for her pro-Austrian views.
But Ilona failed to avoid the attacks of kuruz gangs: her younger brother Yanosh Zrini, who was going to visit her, had been trapped by “rebels” in 1678.
Aiming to set her brother free, Ilona started a secret correspondence with the kuruz leader – earl Imre Tekeli, who was very famous for his defeats of the Habsburg armies. First secret meeting of Ilona and Imre Tekeli, who was 14 years younger that 36-year old widow, took place in summer of 1679 and was aimed to free Yanosh Zrini from his captivity.
According to the legend, this meeting was held in a small mansion of Beregkovach that was also a part of Chizay’s property. This is exactly where the legendary love of Ilona and Imre takes its beginning. This love joined them together until their death. When found out about their love – Sophia Bathori burns the mansion to ashes. A letter of Sophia Bathori came to our days, it is dated February 3, 1680 and addressed to Ilona, sent from Mukachevo castle, where Bathori blamed Ilona for accepting the kuruz rebel Tekeli in Makovetsky (Chinadievsky) castle. In her letter of reply, Ilona gives a proud repulse to the “slanderers who falsified the truth” and explains the visit of Tekeli as an act of politeness.
But the mail chain between Imre and Ilona testifies that their relationships have reached the confession of the mutual feelings of love long before the meeting, that Sophia has learned about. Such a mail chain with all these marriage offers could not appear before the personal meeting of lovers, all the more so – they had such a difference in age! But they were forced to hide the fact, that they became very close. They have hidden it from Sophia, as well as from the hostile to Imre Viennese court, which had to approve their marriage. For a long time since than the warm nostalgic relationship of the couple with Chizay had been preserved: they helped the leaseholders to develop the winemaking business by financing them and purchasing their wine. And at their wedding – celebrated on June 15, 1682 in the Mukachevo castle (which Ilona has inherited after Sophia Bathori’s death, who died on June 14, 1680) – Chizay wine was served. The amount of wine supplied for this celebration tells a lot about development of viniculture that became possible thanks to Ilona and Imre. Let us take a look into the description of the ceremony itself:
«Marriage of 39-year old Zrini and 25-year old Tekeli was celebrated in Palanke on June 15, 1682. (…) Consumed: 130 barrels of red and 150 barrels of white wine. Except for that, the guests have eaten 10 oxen, 36 calfs, 20 pigs, 80 sheep, 4 deer, 6 wild hogs, 800 kilograms of fish, 5000 kilograms of honey, drunk 40 barrels of beer, 25 barrels of Polish palinka».
From one hand – the life on the newlyweds was full of happiness and love – from the other hand, full of desperation. Soon after the wedding the military luck has left young commander Imre Tekeli and his army gets one defeat after another. Himself, he gets into prison in Istanbul “by mistake”. Sleepless Habsburgs have sent the 12-thousand army to Mukachevo right away – to leave rebellious princess without her castle Palanok. Ilona managed to stand this siege during 3 years, supported by only 2 thousands of guardsmen and a few hundred peasants! All the Europe held breath while watching with admiration this womanduchess stands against the whole empire. In the French, Polish and Russian courts people described her noble qualities and beauty. Ilona skillfully reached her goals with not only her sharp mind, but even bribing – often with Chizay wine.
The unassailable fortress was defeated only with the betrayal of the commandant. According to different sources, commandant either poisoned the well in the castle, forcing Ilona to capitulate, or uncovered to Austrians the secret message code –that was used to write letters with which Ilona her husband who stayed in Turkey communicated.
Austrian generals have fabricated a letter from Imre Tekeli in which he asked her wife to stop the resistance. Ilona had no doubts in the fact that al letters were genuine and on January 17, 1688 she has signed the capitulation act.
Together with the children Ilona was transported to Vienna, and although she protested – they made her a monk. But this is when the sultan took his word: we may think that in this way he was asking for forgiveness, he manage to set Ilona free, and when she arrived to Turkey, he gave her a special scroll – atname. It is said that Ilona was the only woman to get this reward.
Finally, let us admit, that in his letter, received by Ilona, before she went to see her husband, that Imre Tekeli send her there is a long list of things he would like her to bring him in this long exile. Among those things there was Chizay wine that was a part of their great love from the very beginning.