National and historical symbols of Hungary

In this section you can find the crests of almost 2400 settlements of Hungary with notes. Find the starting letter of the settlement in the list and click if you want to see it.

The Coat-of-Arms of the Town of Tokaj [¤]
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Tokaj

(County Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén)

Tokaj's coat-of-arms is a shield erect, the base curved to a point. In the field azure a triple mound vert; issuing from the middle one a cross or with a serpent ondoyant in pale thereon, form the dexter and sinister ones a vine stock each with ripe bunches of grape, all or.

The first seal print known so far was made by using the seal engraved in 1549. It bears a cross bendwise with a serpent coiling, the mouth wide open. On the two sides of the cross a vine shoot with bunches of grape drawn from nature are to be seen.

When Tokaj was burnt down at the beginning of the 17th century, the statute book and the seal got probably destroyed as well, so they had to be replaced. On the seal made in 1610 the central motif is again the serpent coiling up the cross, but instead of the vine a human figure, probably that of Moses, is borne on the right hand (dexter) side of the charge.

On a more recent seal of better quality (from 1701) the figure of the serpent on the cross was retained, whereas the human figure (of Moses) on the right hand side became more discernable.

Since the town's coat-of-arms is likely to have been identical with the charge borne on the seal, in the 19th century the use of the coat-of-arms became more frequent. When secularisation was gaining ground, the figure of Moses was abandoned and the image of the vine reappeared. In 1989 the local authority adopted this version, which bears a cross with a brass serpent (Moses IV) on a triple mound in the base (representing Kopasz-hegy [hill] at Tokaj), while the cross is flanked on both sides by vine stocks, which produce Tokaj's renowned 'golden nectar'.

Tokaj has an exceptionally beautiful, enchanting geographical location. This small town of mediaeval origin lies, or rather slumbers, on the lap of Kopasz-hegy (Bald Hill), with its feet being washed by the waves of the Bodrog River. This extraordinary co-occurrence of Nature's beauties and the world-famous local wine, the golden aszú produced on the slopes of Kopasz-hegy, have been immortalised and glorified by many a poet, writer and statesman.

The history of Tokaj has closely been linked to the fate of the mother country and that of the Hungarian people. The town was built at the meeting place of geographical regions and at the junction of major roads. It was also here that the salt road winding from the salt mines of Máramaros as far as Buda crossed the Tisza River. Merchants who traded with and forwarded a variety of goods between the Balkans and Transylvania, Upper Hungary and Poland, where the famous Tokaj wine was one of the most sought-for products, would have crossed the river at Tokaj. Military troops would also ever so often appear, either to conquer or to liberate. The ferry of Tokaj operated at the meeting point of commercial and military roads, and its defense was secured by the famous Tokaj castle. Throughout the Middle Ages, he who owned the castle had the right to operate the ferry and, in addition, to benefit from the famous vineyards on the hillslopes.

Nor was the beauty of the place left unnoticed by Anonymus, the first Hungarian chronicler. According to him, our ancestors, the conquering Magyars looked around from the top of Tokaj Hill and were so much fascinated by the beauty of the place that they decided to settle here.

Situated on the border between Transylvania and the Kingdom of Hungary, Tokaj was to become one of the settlements in the country that suffered the most from feudal fights for power and from religious wars. The castle changed hands innumerable times. The most famous castellan was Ferenc Némethy (1556-1565), who also wrote psalms. The castle, destroyed on many occasions by floods and sieges, was always rebuilt by the forced labour of serfs from different counties. It gained its final shape after 1660, when it was considered to be the strongest fortification in northeast Hungary. In 1645 it got into the possession of the Rákóczi family.

Tokaj was the scene of significant events in all of Hungary's wars of independence. In 1604, after several months of siege, the castle was eventually captured by Bocskai's troops. It was the same place from which Gábor Bethlen led his army against Vienna. At the end of the 17th century Tokaj became the target of kuruc (Hungarian insurgent troops fighting the Hapsburgs) attacks launched from the border region of Transylvania. Tokaj was occupied by Thököly's soldiers but later, during the expulsion of the Turks, it surrendered to the Hapsburg Emperor. In 1697 the leader of the hiding kuruc soldiers, Ferenc Tokaji held it for a short time. When the revolt was put down, the Emperor's soldiers took revenge on Tokaj: all the inhabitants were killed and the houses burnt to the ground. At the beginning of the war of independence led by Rákóczi, the siege of Tokaj was directed by the Prince himself. For a short time it was made Rákóczi's war capital, where he took the first steps toward organising an independent national state. When the war was over, Tokaj became the property of the Treasury. A long and peaceful period followed, favourable for the development of industry and trade. German, Greek, Russian and Jewish merchants transported Tokaj's wine to the northern countries, as well as the goods of the local guilds for sale at the markets all over Hungary.

During the war of independence of 1848-9 the troops of Schlick, the Emperor's general, who had set out to capture the members of the independent government in Debrecen, were driven out of Tokaj by György Klapka's soldiers, who launched their bayonet attack across the ice of the frozen river Tisza.

After the reconciliation of 1867 between Austria and Hungary, capitalistic development started and resulted in the prospering of lumber industry, matchmaking, lumber and salt trade, as well as stone mining. On the other hand, this development created serious conflicts between the wealthy vineyard owners, craftsmen and tradesmen, and the poor miners and day labourers. That was the reason why Tokaj witnessed a series of bloody revolutionary revolts in 1918-9. It was occupied by the Rumanians twice. Between the two world wars lumber industry and wine trade were on the decline. There were no local job opportunities. Daily wages equalled the price of a litre of wine. For Tokaj the world war ended on November 22, 1944, when the last rear-guard fascist troops were driven out by Rumanian and Soviet soldiers.