Photo: Gestrgangleri

Balogvár is located in the Upper lands/Horná Zem/Felvidék, which used to be in Upper Hungary, but it is in Slovakia. Next to this valley, we can find the valley of Vály with the village of Felsővály. (That happens to be one of the origins of my family.) It was built by the German Henrik, son of Oth, around 1290. Its village, Vámosbalog used to have a right to collect taxes.

As for its inhabitants’ origin, they may have been Germans or Pechenegs (besenyő), the villagers of Vály considered them “foreigners” and there weren’t many mixed marriages between them in the 19th century. As for the Turkish age, the Ottoman army took the castles of Fülek and Salgó in 1554 and they built the palisade castle called Szabadka near Rimaszombat. We don’t know whether they had taken Balog castle or not but it is not thought too likely.

The Diet of Pozsony in 1567 ordered Gömör County to have the castles of Balog and Gede reinforced because of their closeness to the Turks. The royal forces took back the castles of Nógrád county in 1593 but the double taxation of the villages remained in custom, meaning that they had to pay taxes to the Turks as well. The castle opened its gates before the Hajdú soldiers of Prince Bocskai István of Transylvania in 1605-1607 then the Széchy family got it according to the Truce of Vienna.

Contemporary records speak of 30 Hajdú soldiers as its garrison. Balog castle became officially a borderland castle in 1608 and its defenders became mercenaries paid by the king. Half of the work that the peasants owed to their landlords in Gömör county was given to the reconstruction of the castle. It is assumed that it covered the expenses of only a palisade.

The troops of Prince Bethlen Gábor had stayed in the castle from time to time between 1619 and 1623 as the guards had ceded the castle without a cannon shot. The castle of Murány got into the hands of Wesselényi Ferenc, the captain of Fülek castle when his lover  Széchy Mária helped him to it by making the guards drunk. So Wesselényi has become the lord of Balog castle, too. Soon, the troops of Prince Rákóczi György I besieged Balog castle but assumedly the siege had failed.

The COA of the Balogh family (by Gestrgangleri)

Wesselényi Ferenc and his wife, Széchy Mária purchased Balog castle for 10,000 gold Forints from Count Dénes III Széchy in 1646. According to the records, they employed two more soldiers in the tower of the castle in 1663; their job was to watch the traffic and warn the garrison. Next year the Palatine Wesselényi reinforced the castle.  Gyöngyössy István was appointed as its captain in 1668.

Photo: Gestrgangleri

The castle went to the Treasury in 1671 because Emperor Leopold I took it away from Széchy Mária for taking part in the Wesselényi Conspiracy. We have the records of the takeover where we can read about the ground bastions and the palisade of the castle, built by the peasants of the County.

The castle was destroyed during the wars of  Thököly Imre about 1678-1682. The castle and the area were given to the loyal Koháry family in 1687. Baron Koháry Farkas had a palace built on the edge of the village in 1689 with a great hunting garden.

There hasn’t been any archeological work so far, just the castle got “cleaned” up a little, making the sorrowful ruins even worse. It was a small but nice castle, defending the 1,500 km long borderland dutifully for 150 years. It would deserve more care.

Photo: Gestrgangleri


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