Half a millennium ago, the Great Plain was not a treeless steppe but forest land at the constant mercy of the flooding Tisza and Danube Rivers. The Turks felled most of the trees, destroying the protective cover and releasing the topsoil to the winds; villagers fled north or to the market towns and khas (settlements under the sultan’s jurisdiction). The region had become the puszta ('deserted' or 'abandoned') and home to shepherds, fisher folk, runaway serfs and outlaws. You’ll find few fortifications on the Great Plain; the Turks demanded they be destroyed as part of the agreement of retreat. In the 19th century regulation of the rivers dried up the marshes and allowed for methodical irrigation, paving the way for intensive agriculture, particularly on the Southern Plain, but flooding still occurs to this day.