Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars between 1372-1699


Boldogkő aka Boldogkőváralja’s castle is in north Hungary and it was built by Comes Tyba, son of Jaak from the Tomaj Clan, after 1255. It was defending the road towards Kassa (Kosice, Kaschau) and the Valley of the Hernád River. It was first mentioned in King András III’s document in 1295. The legend of the castle dates back to the Tatar invasion where King Béla IV was allegedly hiding in it in 1241.

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King László IV got the castle between 1272 and 1290 by a barter. When the Hungarian Árpád dynasty had no more male heirs, Boldogkő became the property of the Amadé Clan who was defeated by King Károly Róbert in the Battle of Rozgony in 1312. The king gave the fort to the Drugeth family but the castellan was appointed by the king. The new owners built the triangular tower and enlarged the castle as well. It was King Zsigmond who pledged the castle to Czudar Péter of Ónod in 1388 and again in 1396.


Georg Brankovics, Serbian Despot owned it between 1427 and 1457. King Matthias Corvinus gifted it to the Parlagi brothers, Pál and László in 1461. Then, the ruler decided to pledge it to the town of Kassa in 1467 in exchange for a sum. However, the leaders of Kassa ceded Boldogkő castle to Szapolyai Imre, the general of King Matthias. Somehow, it returned to the king in 1471 but then, the Szapolyai family was able to get it. They gave it to the Tomori family in 1526. In the following years, the history of Boldogkő can tell us how much Christian blood was shed in the civil war of the Dual Kingship, instead of fighting the Ottoman Empire. 


The castle had frequently exchanged hands between King Szapolyai and the usurper King Ferdinand I during the next years. At first, it was Báthori István, the man of King Ferdinand who took it in 1527 but King Szapolyai retook it by force in the next year. Yet, he could not keep it and the fort returned to Ferdinand a few months later. We can find it in Szapolyai’s hand again in 1530. Soon, it was besieged by the army of Serédy Gáspár and Bebek Ferenc, their six-week-long siege was unsuccessful. At the end of 1530, the castle is owned by Tomori Egyed who sold it to the statesman of Szapolyai, Prior György Martinuzzi. Serédi Gáspár and Bebek Ferenc had beaten the troops of Szapolyai in 1530 there and laid a six-week-long unsuccessful siege on the castle.  Yet, Fels Lénárd, the soldier of King Ferdinand took it in 1537. Fels Lénard exchanged it with Patóchy Ferenc for Gyula castle in 1542. Patóchy had a daughter called Zsófia who wed Lord Bebek Ferenc. It was how Boldogkő went to the Bebek family in that year.

Bebek Ferenc was the most infamous robber knight of the age, with a valiant reputation against the Turks. Sárközy Mihály traded the captured Turkish Pasha Achmed for the castle with the Bebek family in 1560. Then, it was sold to the Serényi family in 1578. The fort was owned by Lady Bajonyi Zsófia in 1585. The famous warrior-poet Balassa Bálint used to live there in the 1580s.

Balassi Bálint

 Boldogkő was the property of Serényi Ferenc in 1592. The Palochay family bought it from them in 1612 and after a few businesses, it went to Prince Rákóczi György I in 1644. (1627: Szikszay Mátyás; 1630: Várkonyi János)  The walls of the castle witnessed how the army of Upper Hungary was gathering there in 1663 before attacking the Ottomans. Then, the Palochay family took the castle over in 1671 again, just to sell it soon to Szelepcsényi György, Archbishop of Esztergom. He owned it until his death in 1685.

The castle had had a few sieges in the meantime, like the one in 1674 when the anti-Habsburg “kuruc” rebels wanted to take it. Prince Thököly Imre could take it in 1678. The Emperor’s troops began the destruction of the castle in 1676 ( they wanted to blow it up as they had done with the castles of Kisvárda, Szerencs, and Füzér). Later, Prince Thököly Imre’ men surrendered the castle in 1685 to the Emperor when Thököly was arrested by Pasha Achmed of Várad. The Habsburg mercenaries had the rest of the castle exploded by gunpowder in 1701. The Jesuits of Léva received the ruins and they stored grain in the surviving buildings in 1705. They sold it to Péchy Gábor in 1753. The Péchy family began to rebuild the castle in the neo-gothic style during the 19th century. The castle became the property of the Zichy family after 1890.


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For me, Boldogkőváralja’s castle is one of the most charming forts of north Hungary. Here are a few more pictures of Boldogkő castle:

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