An orphaned peasant raised by nobility leads 2,000 Hungarian men, women and children to victory against impossible odds after being surrounded during the historic Siege of Eger in 1552, ultimately killing over half of the 70,000 enemy troops and saving Europe from an Ottoman invasion.
After being called to the fortress of Eger to serve under Captain Dobó with his 250 troops, Gergely Bornemissza’s son is abducted by Jurmurdzsák, a janissary and his mortal enemy. Éva, Gergely’s wife, joins a cavalry regiment to inform Gergely about his son, but they arrive too late. The fortress is completely surrounded by 70,000 Ottoman troops, and Gergely’s son is in the enemy camp. Ironically, the Hungarians accidentally capture a Turkish boy before the fortress is surrounded.
12 days into the battle, Jurmurdzsák presents Gergely’s son outside the fortress, wanting to trade him for his talisman, a topaz and diamond ring that has hung around Gergely’s neck since he took it as a young boy. But Gergely can’t and won’t barter with the enemy. He thinks his wife must be dead. Several of his men and one of his best friends are killed when he keeps the riflemen from shooting in the direction of his son.
A few weeks later, the fortress cathedral blows-up after a teenaged page lights a fire by the sacristy, where the gunpowder was stored. All Ottoman armies attack immediately, the first coordinated attack against the fortress. Captain Dobó commands the women to fight at the walls as the Ottoman troops overwhelm them. What he didn’t know was that his enemies believe that if they die by the hand of a woman in battle, they lose their eternal reward. Thousands of Turkish troops lose their life that day as they hesitate in battle at the sight of women.
Soon after that, in a last-ditch effort to push the janissary troops back, the cavalry charges out the main gate and clears siege ladders from the walls. The waiting cavalry regiment outside the fortress makes a break for the main gate, and Éva is reunited with Gergely. He finally decides that the defense of the fort must come before the preservation of his son, convinced he will be reunited with him, either in this life or the next.
On the 39th day of the siege, the fighting is fierce, but the Turkish troops can’t breach the walls, even though they are severely damaged. That night the commander of the Ottoman troops declares that, "Allah is on the side of the Hungarians," and they retreat the next day.
As the last of the Ottoman troops depart, a Turkish woman brings Gergely’s son, emaciated and beaten, to the main gate, in an attempt to exchange him for her captured son, Selim. But Gergely and Éva have cared for him as their own son, and he refuses to leave. Gergely invites the woman to start a new life in a free country. As she does, Gergely discovers that she is Jurmurdzsák’s concubine, and Selim his son. His own family is finally reunited.
Although Jurmurdzsák wasn’t killed, he lost everything of value. Dobo mentions to Gergely that the battle would have been lost without his ingenious use of gunpowder, creating the first hand grenades in the history of Central Europe. Gergely responds by declaring that, "The strength of our walls was not in the stone, but in the hearts of our people."