Bazin (Pezinok, Bösing, Bazinium) is a town in Slovakia, it is famous for its castle which was built in the 13th century in the Kingdom of Hungary.
In 1208, in return for his loyal services, King András II gave the land of Bazin [Bozen], which belonged to Pozsony (Pressburg, Bratislava) castle, to Tamás of Nyitra of the Hontpázmány Clan. The king confirmed this in 1216 because his seal had been lost when Queen Gertrude was murdered. Comes Tamás was the ancestor of the Szentgyörgyi and Bazin families. In his privileged charter of 21 June 1256, King Béla IV confirmed the deed of donation of the land of “Bozin”.
The date of the castle’s construction is unknown, but it was definitely built by the Hontpazmány family, and the settlement was established next to it. According to Pauler Gyula and Miroslav Plaček, the castle must have been standing in 1271, because it was besieged by King Ottokar II during his campaign against King István (Stephen) V in April.
The “History of the Princes of Styria” describes the 1271 campaign of King Ottokar II of Bohemia against King István (Stephen) V: “He caught Szentgyörgy, Bazin, Vöröskő, Nagyszombat, Óvár in a net, just like an animal gets caught during a hunt. (…) A peace was concluded at Prague, which returned the territory captured in the war to István [Stephen V], who insulted his opponent first with arms, now with rude threats, and now with impudence. Ottokar, therefore, justly indignant, took it all back the following year [he is speaking here of the 1273 campaign]’.
According to Fügedi Erik, a Hungarian historian, when King Ottokar II wrote about “turrigere munitiones” (tower-bearing fortresses) in a letter of 1271, he refers to Szentgyörgy, Bazin, and Vöröskő, but the letter does not name the defenses specifically. According to Engel Pál, the fort was not yet standing at that time.
What is certain is that the first mention of it dates back to 1295, when Szentgyörgyi Ábrahám stated in a document that he donated the Alistál estate in Csallóköz to László, son of Csallóközi István, because when the Austrians besieged the castles of Bazin and Szentgyörgy, László and his son Taró István had gained great merit. László gave his son as a hostage to the Austrians and made financial sacrifices to regain the two castles. The Austrian invasion mentioned in the charter may have been in 1287 when Albert’s forces also took Pozsony. In 1291, King András III pushed Albert’s Austrian forces back to Vienna and forced a peace treaty in which the Austrian prince returned the Hungarian castles he had captured.
In the struggle for the throne after the demise of the House of Árpád, the Counts of Szentgyörgy and Bazin were supporters of King Károly Róbert and therefore kept their estates. The sons of Szentgyörgyi Ábrahám, Sebes [Sebus of Bozyn], and Péter, were confirmed by the king in 1321. In 1334, in May 1334, The brothers divided the property (Szentgyörgy and Bazin castles) on 8 March 1334 the Pozsony Chapter.
On 25 June 1339, King Károly Róbert granted the sons of Ábrahám of Hontpazmány Clan, Sebes, and Péter, permission to freely mine gold, silver, and other metals from their estates, and in particular from the territories of Bazin and Szentgyörgy, and to also wash gold. A charter dated 13 July 1339 already informs us of the dispute as to whether the gold and other metals found in the Bazin area were within the boundaries of the Bazin estate of Sebes and Péter or on royal land.
Sebes got into debt and his relationship with his brother deteriorated. In 1342 there was already a lawsuit between them, in the course of which the Győr Chapter divided the estate in May 1343. The older branch of Szentgyörgyi and the older branch of Bazin were created. The division and litigation over the estates continued for decades.
On 08.05.1363, according to the charter of King Lajos (Louis) I, the dispute between the brother of Szentgyörgyi Sebus, Master Péter, and his three sons on the one hand, and between the same Sebus’ sons János and Miklós on the other hand, over the boundaries between the castles of Szentgyörgy and Bazin in Pozsony County was concluded and the two parties accepted the boundaries described in the privilege as perpetual.
In 1385, in his struggle for the Hungarian throne, King Zsigmond (Sigismund) of Luxembourg enlisted the help of his relatives, the Moravian margraves Jodok and Prokop, in exchange for the royal lands between the Moravian border and the Vág River. However, they also took private castles.
In 1385, “…Jodok and Prokop, the Moravian Margraves, marched against Hungary with great force and attacked and captured many towns and castles of the Hungarian counties neighboring the Moravians; among these were Jókő, Korlátkő, Éleskő, Detrekő, Vöröskő, Dévény, Berencs, Nagyszombat, Szakolca, Szentgyörgy, Вazin, Modor, Cseklész Pozsony, among other castles”.
The biggest private-landowner losers of the Margraves’ campaign were the Szentgyörgyi and Bazizni families. King Zsigmond had to recapture the royal castles from Prokop in 1390, but the Szentgyörgyi family had to pay 4000 Forints for Bazin and 1900 for Éberhárd. According to a court document of 1399, the castle of Bazin (“Bosin”), which had been occupied by the Czechs (“olim quidam Bohemi”), was reoccupied by Master Péter, son of Szentgyörgyi Péter, at the death of 3 of his family members and the cost of 4000 gold forints. The castle was returned to Master Bazini György. Then, Szentgyörgyi Péter sued Bazini György before the magistrate for not paying the costs despite his promise. The possibility of a duel was even raised during the trial.
In 1425, Bazini György and Miklós divided the family estates between them. This is when the first description of the castle of Bazin (“castri Bozyn”) is written. The castle then consisted of an outer and an inner castle connected by a bridge, and a chapel along with a well. Between the tower and the chapel, there was a building (domos vero et edificia a dicta turri usque ad prescriptam capellam), an adjoining great hall (stuba manga), and a baking house (domus parva pistoribus), antemurale vulgo parkan. In the outer castle were stabula equorum (horse stables), the ramparts are called parapets, so they were probably built of wood. The town was also mentioned in the charter with the parish church of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
In February 1428, Bohemian Hussites invading from the direction of Szakolca defeated Stibor the Younger’s army and marched on Pozsony, robbing and burning Modor, Bazin, and Szentgyörgy, killing many of the inhabitants. There is no record of the siege and capture of the castles of Szentgyörgy and Bazin.
In 1446, Szentgyörgyi György (“Bozyn and Zenthgywrgh”), on behalf of his sons (John and Sigismund) and himself shared with his brother Péter (“Péter Groff of Bozyn and Zenthgywrgh”), and with his widow called Marcali Hedvig and his sons (Imre, László, István). György became the owner of the castles of Szentgyörgy (“Zenthgywrgh”) and Éberhard (“Eberharth”), his widow of the castles of Bazin (“Bozyn”) and Borostyánkő (“Borosthyan”). This division was accepted by both parties and declared final until the extinction of the family. Should either party be found childless and die out, his castles and estates would pass to the other party.
On 01.10.1459, Emperor Frederick of the HRE granted Counts Szentgyörgyi János and Bazini János the right to mint money, but only as long as they remained his supporters. In 1461, László “dictus” Groff of Bozen and Zenthgyergh and the widow of his brother Imre, Lady Ilona, shared the estates for a period of one year. According to this agreement, the care, maintenance, and defense of the castles of Bozen and Borostyán and their appurtenances, which were the equal responsibility of László and Imre’s son Simon, was undertaken by László alone at his own expense.
The first record of the fortifications of the town of Bazin dates from 1482. Szentgyörgyi László and Bazini László complained to the Provost of Pozsony, György, that members of his family had robbed the town and knocked down the gate of the fortification (“portas fortalicii”). There are no other records of the extent and material of this fortification.
On Communion Thursday, 6 May 1529, nine-year-old Hánsel Meylinger disappeared from the market town of Bazin. His body was found on the 12th and the Jewish inhabitants were imprisoned the same day. The next day, the coroner’s inquest was held with the help of jurors from the surrounding towns (Pozsony, Nagyszombat, Modor, Szene). The interrogation of the suspects did not begin until Tuesday 18th, because of the Pentecost holiday, and on Friday 21st the entire Jewish community, some 30 men, women, and children, were burned to death. Let us note that the Jewish communities in Habsburg-controlled Hungary were like this, while in Transylvania, no such things were recorded.
In 1543, with the extinction of the Szentgyörgyi and Bazini families, the double estate reverted to the king. Then, King Ferdinand assessed their value, at which time Bazin and Szentgyörgyvár were worth 130,000 forints. On 5 July 1546, Ferdinand I pledged the former Szentgyörgyi estates in Pozsony County to Serédy Gáspár for 53,000 forints.
In 1548, the judges, jurors, and other inhabitants of the towns, villages, and estates belonging to the castles of Szentgyörgy, Bazin, Detrekő, and Borostyánkő, as well as all the people of all ranks, asked King Ferdinand to investigate the landlord’s excesses and the violation of custom under the former lordship. The King ordered an inquiry, and the privileges, rights, liberties, and customs of Szentgyörgy, Bazin, and the people of their respective estates, which had been granted to them by the former kings of Hungary, were confirmed by King Ferdinand against Serédy.
After Serédy’s death, his son was the pledge-holder until 1554. On 01.07.1555, the Jászó convention called on Serédy György to return the manors of Szentgyörgy and Bazin. In 1559, Ferdinand urged the Hungarian Chamber to redeem the two manors from Serédy. In 1566, it was donated by the king to Count zu Salm Eck, the Chief Comes of Pozsony, who in 1575 transferred the pledge of the estate to Count Krusith János of Lepoglava for 132,000 talers (Krusith pledged it only on condition of retaining the privileges).
On January 9, 1575, Krusith János and his wife Pálffy Kata received the estates of Szentgyörgy and Bazin from King Maximilian II for a pledge of 132,000 talers for 6 years with the proviso that they, their daughter Helén and all her heirs were to be free to possess them for the period specified in the contract. The king, however, stipulated in the contract that the rights of the market towns should not be infringed.
Krusith carried out construction in the castle, as evidenced by a coat of arms bearing the year 1575. After the death of Krusith in 1582, Pálffy Kata administered her ex-husband’s property and she was called the “free woman of Bazin and Szentgyörgy”. Pálffy Kata became the wife of Illésházy István, later Palatine.
In 1598, an unusual thing happened when King Rudolf II asked the two market towns to redeem themselves from the pledge of Pálffy Kata and Illésházy. “At our gracious wish and request,” says the charter of Rudolf II, “the two market towns of the Szentgyörgy and Bazin estates, Szentgyörgy and Bazin, out of their unique and profound love for us…humbly offered to redeem themselves from their pledge-holder, Illésházy István, by paying off 140,000 talers and returning to our hands.”
The document also included the goal of making Szentgyörgy and Bazin similar to the chamber town that Emperor Maximilian, King Rudolf’s father had made of the neighboring market town of Modor. And King Rudolf II further committed himself and his successors never to sell or mortgage the two market towns and their respective estates.
Illésházy, as a pledge-holder, created all kinds of difficulties for the townspeople and acted against the royal decrees. In 1603, the two towns complained to the Hungarian Chamber that they were very slow in settling their affairs. Eventually, Illésházy’s relations with the King became so bad that he was forced to flee to Poland in 1603. His properties were confiscated. Illésházy, although hostile to Emperor Rudolf, remained in contact with Archduke Matthias. He eventually returned to Hungary as a follower of Prince Bocskai István of Transylvania.
In May 1605, Bocskai’s forces wanted to take Pozsony. From Nagyszombat, Búcsy Benedek with his 6000 men occupied Szempce, Bazin, Szentgyörgy, and Csekles. According to the letter of Archduke Matthias on 17 Augustus 1605, the royal troops recaptured Szentgyörgy and Bazin:
“The garrison of Szentgyörgy agreed with Colonel Schönberg that he would help them with German troops; the colonel attacked the rebels in the castle on 8 August and partly slaughtered them, partly took them prisoner, and captured the castle. After this, Schoenberg sent 300 mercenaries to Szentgyörgy to help him and ordered them to turn against the rebels in Bazin, who attacked and took the castle by a sudden attack.”
The Archduke later ordered an inquiry into the damage done by Schönberg’s infantry regiment between 7 August 1605 and 25 February 1606. Illésházy was instrumental in the conclusion of the Peace of Vienna and the accession of King Habsburg Matthias II to the throne. As a reward, he not only received back the estates of Bazin and Szentgyörgy but also other donations, as a result of which Bazin again lost the rights it had gained from Emperor Rudolf in 1598.
On the 4th of July 1606, the pledge was renewed by Archduke Matthias for the duration of the lifetime of Pálffy Kata and her second husband, Illésházy István, with the proviso that he could dispose of it for anyone who would hold the two estates and all the cattle belonging to them for another 10 years.
For this, the parties lent the monarch a total of 250,000 Hungarian gold Forints. The contract allowed them to make the necessary repairs up to a further 8,000 Forints, and to add this amount to the loan to be repaid. In 1608, Illésházy was elected as a Palatine in 1608, at which time he began to rebuild the castle. The Illésházy-Pálffy coat of arms can still be seen on the walls of the castle courtyard. In 1609 the term of the pledge was increased to 20 years.
On 15 August 1612, Pálffy Kata left Bazin and Szentgyörgy to the sons of her beloved brother Pálffy Miklós, so that the eldest may keep the property and not break it, but to help the others out of the one-third of the income, and that they may keep the rest.
In 1615, King Habsburg Matthias II released the town from the pledge and placed it under the jurisdiction of the Chamber. Bazin became a royal town again by decree of King Matthias in 1615. The relevant charter allowed the town to be surrounded by walls and fortifications, to set a toll and collect one shovelful of grain or four denarii for every cart loaded with grain, to elect a judge, council, and governor every year, and to prohibit the import of foreign wine. In return, Bazin was obliged to supply the royal table with 250 “akó” of good wine per year. (One “akó” was 58 liters.)
On 3 May 1616, King Matthias II ordered that the parish churches in Bazin and Szentgyörgy be returned to the Catholics. He reserved the right of canonry to himself and his successors. In 1616, the construction of the fortifications, which had begun, was supervised by George Behm. According to archaeological surveys, at that time no stone walls were built, but earthworks were constructed using earth excavated from the moats. The moats were almost 3 meters deep. The earthworks were probably topped by palisade walls, only the three city gates were built of stone.
In the campaigns of Prince Bethlen Gábor of Transylvania in 1619 and 1621, Bazin and Szentgyörgy changed hands several times. In 1621 Leopold Peck (Beck Lipót), the Comptroller of the Treasury in Pozsony, was captain of Szentgyörgy and Bazin (“…ac arcium Zent Gieörgi et Bazin capitaneo”).
In 1625 King Ferdinand II ordered the Chamber to pledge the Szentgyörgy and Bazin properties to Erdődy Pálffy István, János, and Pál for 200,000 Hungarian Forints. In 1626, this was confirmed for 6 years and then extended again in 1635 for 50,000 Rhine Forints. The town of Bazin was granted the right to send an envoy to the Diet by Article 63 of the Law of 1638. It was only King Ferdinand III who made it a truly free royal town in 1647.
In 1641, preparations were underway for the construction of the walls. In 1643, Friedrich Kappler was in charge of the works. From then on, the stone walls were built in several stages until 1670. The walls were about 110 cm thick at the foundations and 3-4 meters high. The 1785 plan shows 10 polygonal bastions and a semicircular bastion to reinforce the defenses. There was also a parallel, weaker wall inside the city walls. The city walls were built of stone and were only suitable for defending against small raids.
The document issued on January 17, 1649, reveals that Pálffy Miklós the Younger gave Bazin castle and estates with all its belongings to his wife in exchange for 35,000 Rhine Forints and 60 silver coins, with the stipulation that if she decides to leave her husband’s name after widowhood, she must return the property to the Pálffy heirs in exchange for the aforementioned sum.
In 1650, Bazin complained about how expensive it was to feed the Pálffy army. He asked for a tax reduction and for the fortification of the city walls. In that year, a statement says that Pozsony, Sopron, Nagyszombat, Modor, Trencsén, Szakolca, Szentgyörgy, Bazin, Kismarton, Kőszeg – all towns along the Austrian border – are obliged to keep 15-50 soldiers each; the soldiers’ pay is 3 forints per month, calculated for three years and deducted from the tax levied.
On 26.05.1655, King Ferdinand III granted the town permission to import wood free of duty to rebuild the houses destroyed by fire. In that year, the tax imposed on the free royal towns of Bazin was 5000 forints. On 10.03.1659, a report was made on the fortifications and gates of Bazin.
In 1663 Bazin was obliged to pay a tax of 4000 forints. In 1663 the cavalry of the Turkish army besieging Érsekújvár and the Crimean Tatar (or Tartar) troops broke through the Vág River’s line on 2 September and set the counties of Pozsony and Nyitra on fire. They burnt to ashes Szentgyörgy, George, Bazin, and Modor. The enemy destroyed everything up to Pozyony, and then crossing the Morava River, invaded Moravia and continued their rampages under the walls of Brno and Olomouc.
In his will written on 14 January 1679, Pálffy Miklós divided Bazin castle, the palace of Királyháza, and the mansion on Szentgyörgy, with all the related property and possessions, the vineyards, mills, and fishponds he had acquired, equally between his three sons.
On 12 July 1683, in Bazin, the representatives of Pozsony County decided to seek the favor of Prince Thököly Imre of Transylvania and sent him 1000 gold pieces as a gift and 500 gold pieces to his officers. On 21 July, in Nagyszombat, the whole County of Pozsony, with the exception of Pozsony Castle, sided with Thököly.
On 30 September 1683, Charles of Lotharingia notified the council of Pozsony that he was requesting 300 horses and the necessary supplies from the towns of Bazin, Szentgyörgy, Modor, and Nagyszombat for the campaign against the Turks. During the Turkish campaign, the city was occupied by Thököly’s Kuruc troops. On 1 July 1694, the properties of Bazin and Szentgyörgy were divided between Pálffy János and Miklós who were the sons of Jr. Pálffy Miklós.
The turbulent days of Bazin during the Rákóczi War of Independence
During the Rákóczi War of Independence, Bazin changed hands countless times, inflicting much suffering on its inhabitants. At the beginning of Rákóczi’s War of Independence, in November 1703, Nagyszombat opened its gates to the anti-Habsburg Kuruc troops, and the small mountain castles were conquered in turn (Szomolány, Berencs, Sasvár, Éleskő, Jókő, Korlátkő, Detrekő and the town of Szakolca). Bazin, Szentgyörgy, and Modor also opened their gates before the soldiers of General Károlyi in December.
In the spring of 1704, during the attack of Heister and Ritschan, General Bercsényi rallied his troops, and ordered the Ottlyk Brigade, which had occupied Szentgyörgy, Bazin, Modor, and Nagyszombat, to join him. Ottlyk left a small number of Hajdú soldiers to guard the towns. Pálffy, the Croatian Bán (Duke), captured Szentgyörgy with his imperial troops, after a short battle. On May 6, he conquered Bazin and Modor without resistance. Heister had to turn back to the Danube because of the situation in the Trans-Danubian Region, and Bercsényi took advantage of this and recaptured the four towns with Károlyi without a fight. In the battle of Szomolány, Ritschan’s troops were crushed by the Kuruc army and the leader himself was taken prisoner.
In December 1704, Heister attacked Nagyszombat and captured Szentgyörgy, Bazin, and Modor, which had been evacuated by the Kuruc soldiers. In the Battle of Nagyszombat, Prince Rákóczi was defeated by the imperial armies. In February 1705, the Kuruc were again raiding under Vienna, and Heister withdrew to defend the imperial city, but left about 3,000 infantrymen to defend the cities.
While the imperial army was occupied in the Trans-Danubian Region, Esterházy Dániel took Modor, Bazin, and Szentgyörgy between 30 March and 1 April. He let the surrendering Germans go, but many of them were slaughtered by the Slovak peasantry in the area.
In May 1705, Prince Rákóczi II Ferenc himself wrote in a letter that “…the enemy had left the towns beyond the Vág River (Modor, Bazín, Szent-György) with a shameful capitulation, the peasants of Fejérhegy hills striking at them: as they secretly brought weapons with them, thus breaking the terms of the capitulation, they (the peasants) slaughtered eight hundred of them…”.
In April 1706, during the peace negotiations, the wife of Prince Rákóczi II Ferenc, Princess Charlotte-Amelie, spent a night in Bazin, probably in the castle, on her way to visit the Prince. In the spring of 1707, Guido Starhemberg captured the castles of the Lesser Carpathians and pushed the Kuruc back across the Vág River. He also occupied the three towns before liberating the castle of Lipótvár. During the Kuruc counter-attack, Forgách Simon also sacked Szentgyörgy, Bazin, and Modor.
The three towns changed hands several times in 1708. On 29 May, General Heister withdrew the imperial garrisons from Nagyszombat, Modor, Bazin, Szentgyörgy, Galánta, and Diószeg to protect the Csallóköz Region, leaving garrisons only in Trencsén, Vágújhely, Lipótvár, Szered, Sellye and the watery castle of Gúta (Békavár).
The three cities sent a hurried letter of homage to General Vak Bottyán. Count Csáky István wrote to Károlyi Sándor on 15 June 1708: “My lord Bottyán has built a bridge on the Vág at Sók, he is on a raid to Csallóköz and has conquered the land as far as Pozsony.” In the Battle of Trencsén, Rákóczi suffered a heavy defeat, and the 3 cities were again under imperial rule.
After the battle, in August 1708, Bottyán briefly retook Bazin and Modor. In October, he advanced under Pozsony with 2000 cavalrymen, taxing the 3 towns in the process. After the defeat at the Battle of Romhány at the end of January 1710, General Béri Balogh Ádám conquered Nagyszombat, Modor, Szentgyörgy, and Bazin in a short assault.
After the War of Independence, a census was made in 1715: according to it, the town had very miserable huts and few inhabitants. The defensive role of the walls was abandoned and during the 18th century, the moats were filled with rubbish.
In 1718, Pálffy János had the castle, which had deteriorated during the wars, restored. In 1734, the Pálffys received Bazin and Szentgyörgy for 50,000 forints. The town burnt down in 1784, and they used lots of stones from the ruined town walls for the rebuilding. During the 19th century, the town gates were demolished.
In 1844, Pálffy Ferenc significantly rebuilt the castle. The moats were filled in, a park was built around the castle, and a large hall was constructed on the floor of the former residential tower. In 1875 a lightning strike burnt down the northern part of the castle. It was never restored. The rest of the castle was rebuilt in neo-renaissance style.
In his will of 1907, Count Pálffy János donated 178 valuable paintings from his palaces in Pozsony, Budapest, Vienna, and Bazin Castle to the Picture Gallery of the Hungarian National Museum, mainly by artists from Italy and the German Low Countries. Among them was Lucas Cranach’s painting of 1512, the Madonna Breastfeeding, from Bazin (now on display in the Museum of Fine Arts).
The buildings underwent major renovations in 1940-43. This affected the cellars and an out-of-place building was built on the northern part, which burnt down in 1875. The remaining ruined walls were saved from further destruction in the late 20th century. The reconstruction of the former castle began after its purchase by the Šimákov family and was completed in 2019. First, the cellar was renovated, and later the rest of the rooms. Currently, a hotel and a wine bar are operating within the walls (2022).
If you like my writings, please feel free to support me with a coffee here:
This article contains Amazon ads. By purchasing through these links, you can help my work at no additional cost. Thank you!
My work can also be followed and supported on Patreon:
Become a Patron!
You can find Bazin on Google My Maps here:
Here are more pictures of Bazin Castle and the town walls:
You can Adopt a Castle to support my work: