:: Of the extant sources there is only one in a manuscript form >>>


That document was found among the records of socage service in Kecskemét in 1668-69, has been preserved and is now kept in the Archives of the Council of Bács-Kiskun County.
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Date: september-october 2009.

The historical background to the "Magic Caftan" of Kecskemét >>>

A történetet megörökítő 1668-ból származó kézirat A mysterious and legendlike episode in the history of Kecskemét in the Turkish era (the 16th and 17th centuries) was the story of a caftan given by the Turkish Sultan, or as it is better known from Kálmán Mikszáth's novel, the "magic caftan".
The story, however, was not the product of Mikszáth's imagination as it has survived in several 17th-century sources, of which Mikszáth also made a mention. Of the extant sources there is only one in a manuscript form.
That document was found among the records of socage service in Kecskemét in 1668-69, has been preserved and is now kept in the Archives of the Council of Bács-Kiskun County.
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The importance of caftans and presenting caftans in the Turkish culture >>>

Díszes kaftán a kora újkorból A caftan is long cloak open at the front and is one of the most characteristic pieces of clothing among traditional Turkish garments. Originally it was meant to be worn on special occasions, but it was also used as a dressing gown. Its material and embroidery varied depending on who wore it and for what occasion.
The act of giving or presenting caftans first became widespread among the Turkish. The Sultan, the reigning princes, the Pashas and the leaders presented such embroidered garments to each other as a sign of their respect. During their European conquest, the Sultan and other Turkish nobles began to present caftans to Christians as well. In the course of time, the giving and wearing of the garment acquired political significance.
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Historical circumstances >>>

III. Mehmed szultán One of the hardest and most eventful periods during the one-and-a-half-century-long Turkish rule in Hungary was the so called Fifteen Years' War between 1593 and 1606. (Earlier 1591 was considered the starting date of the war that is why the name.) At that time, one military campaign followed the other, and the hinterland, Habsburg-Hungary and especially the territories under Turkish rule suffered a lot from the continuous warring. It was the inhabitants of these areas who had to support the army. It is no wonder that from time to time the Turkish authorities made new demands from the remaining people of the Great Hungarian Plain, sometimes for food and sometimes for shipping or money. These difficulties keenly affected Kecskemét as well although earlier the town had been in a much better position compared to the other areas under enemy rule as it had been the demesne land of the Sultan, i.e. it did not have a Turkish landlord so it paid tax only to the Sultan's Treasury.
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Summary >>>

III. Mehmed szultán kaftánja Having considered the historical circumstances, we can conclude that the story about the delegates of Kecskemét seems to be credible. On the other hand, we do not have any knowledge of an event in the history of Kecskemét which could undoubtedly be in connection with the delegation of 1596 so it is also unlikely that the citizens of Kecskemét did in fact meet Mehmed III. The gift of the caftan could not have been more than a common gesture of respect. The apparent changes in the life of Kecskemét which took place around the date in question were not as significant as to be in connection with any special events.
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