Friday, February 24, 2012


Alright.  Here's the story.  Near Hrad Topol'cianske was a pivovar, a brewery.  They made beer there. They sang about it.  This is the song they sang.  They closed the pivovar.  There is now no more beer from Topol'čianski.

So that's the end of the story.  No!!! Not even close to the end of the story.  To get to the end of the story, we have to find the front of the story.   "Don't you mean that you have to find the beginning of the story?  What's the matter for you?  Don't you even speak English?"   Alright.  Have it your way.  You find the beginning.  I'm going to the front.  You can come with me or not.  Your choice it is.

To find the front, we must first learn something about the Vezérlő Fejedelem.  After all, if you want to go  to the front of the line, you must first find who is first in line.  He is called the Fejedelem, the Prince.  As you know of course, the word "Prince" means simply "the First."  As it turns out, the Fejedelem in our story is the son of Rákóczi Ferenc and Jelena Zrinska.  Jelena Zrinksa was the daughter of Petar Zrinski with whose neck the empire had had some interest.  Jelena Zrinska was a neice of the Nikola Zrinski whose poetry placed the exploits of his ancestor Nikola Šubić Zrinski at Szigetvár against Suleiman the Magnificent into the hearts of every Croat in the all the world for all time.  "U boj! u boj!  ... Za dom! Spremne!" 

The family lived at this time near Mukacheve around which the borders of the Ukrajna have been drawn since the Second World War - you know- there in Mala Polska.  Look at the map, you can find it.  During the battle of Trenčín, whose environs are visible from the ramparts of the  Topol'čianski  Rákóczi Ferenc's horse stumbled and he was knocked unconscious.  His soldiers presumed his death and fled the field, ending the "Kurac" rebellion.  As a result, the Hussites in Czech and Slovakia were at a fatal military disadvantage as were  the Lutherans in Hungary  and in Croatia, all of whom had supported the notion that the purpose of the state was to protect the people rather than the people to serve the state. 

Oh, did I mention in here anywhere that all this began with the emperor suspending the constitution of the empire? Oh. Perhaps I should have. 

Had Rákóczi's horse not stumbled, the chances are that Central Europe might have been mostly  Protestant thereafter.   One of the Croats who rode rode with Rákóczi from the Topol'čianski that day was my ancestor.  Was he one of those who fled in panic?  I would like to think not, but I don't know.
My ancestors on my father's side began arriving in America shortly after all this, during the period when the Hapsburg government was interested in the necks of almost every member of the family.  Oh.

Topol'čianski Hrad was one of the strong points held by Rákóczi.  It lays astride an ancient roadway leading from Krakova in the north to Bjelovar and on south to Tirana.  It was the roadway by which many Bijelohrvati  moved south over a period of time into that which is modern Croatia.  It was the roadway by which merchandise, ideas, and the news traveled for many centuries.  Those ancient travelers left their mark.  Their path can be easily traced with the help of Google maps.  At Bjelovar the road intersects with the ancient highway to Osijek, Novosad, and points east all the way to China.  This was the ancient "Silk Road" which European  mariners spent so much effort to replace with a more secure water highway with which the Ottoman's and others could not interfere.

There's more to the story.  Important but little known history whispers through the breezes on the battlements of hrad Topol'čianski. If I have to, I will tell some of that history later.  Freddy, you know who you are Freddy. I am going to give you a days to respond before I go public with what I dug up in the castle courtyard.  I would much rather you told the story, but if I have to I will.  You do not wish me to do that. 

Just a few miles  north of Hrad Topol'čianski is the pass where the Germans massed just prior to their invasion of Poland.  Auschwitz lays just a few miles further, just off the old road to Krakova.

So why is an old Croat featuring a song called TOPOĽČIANSKE PIVO?  Topolčianski is in Slovakia isn't it? Yup.  It sure is.  Hrad Topol'cianski was our castle.  It was one of my family's castles.  It was a Croatian Castle on a highway connecting Croatians in the north with Croatians in the south.  The once mighty stari hrad is now a crumbling oddity.  The once major highway across Europe is not even passable by automobile all the way up to the castle.  The castle is crumbling.  The Croats are gone as are others, all long gone, and now, so is the beer.  Placem.

do sljedeći put, blagoslov - until next time, blessings,

Canovals a.k.a. Slavonac
24 veljača  2012