Csábrág or Csábrágvarbók (Čabradský Vrbovok) is located in the Upper lands/Horná Zem/Felvidék, it is in Slovakia. The castle is 21 kilometers away from the Hungarian border as the bird flies. Csábrág was mentioned first in 1276; it was guarding the roads to the Mining Cities. How many castles can be found in the Carpathian Basin? Is there a country richer in values than this?
King Károly Róbert built its castle after the year 1335 and gave it to the Dobrakutya family. The castle used to be called “Litva” for a while. It got its name from the nearby ruined castle called Litva, which stood 3 km southeast of it, at the bend of the Lithuanian river, and was destroyed in the 1320s. Due to the proximity and the same name of the two castles, the data of this early-destroyed castle are erroneously included in the history of Csábrág by historians to this day.
In 1342, the king took away Litva castle (the one that was later called Csábrág)from Péter and Leukus, the sons of Lőrinc of the Dobrakutya Demeter because of treason. The king also confiscated the other Litva castle that was already in ruins, and additionally all the 26 villages and 6 tax-collecting places that belonged to them.
Queen Mária pledged it to Szécsényi Frank, but King Zsigmond exchanged it for Saskő castle in 1387. Three years later he gave Csábrág to Leusták Jolsvai Leusták who in turn handed it over to Pásztói János and Kakas László of Kaza in exchange for Keselőkő castle. Since 1394, Csábrág has been the sole property of the Kakas family.
The castle was called mostly Csábrág from the second half of the 15th century on. It was acquired by Horváth Damján before 1467, and this family adopted the names “Csábrági” and “Litvai”, meaning “de Csábrág” or “de Litva”. It indicated that they were from Csábrág and Litva.
In 1475, the widow of Horváth Damján married Balassa László, and the following year she shared the castle estate with her brother-in-law, Horváth Péter. In 1511, Fáncsy Orbán was the owner of Csábrág, who in that year sold the castle along with its estates and the tolls collected in some villages to Archbishop Tamás and the Erdődy family for 1,000 gold Forints.
According to the donation made by King Lajos and the last will of Bakócz Tamás, Csábrág became the property of the Erdődy family in 1517. Later, Pálffy Péter acquired it by marrying Erdődy Klára, as the castle was her dowry. Their son, the hero of the Ottoman wars was born in Csábrág, he was the famous Pálffy Miklós. During the age of the Dual Kingship, the castle of Csábrág and its people suffered much harassment. As a result of the wars, Csábrág castle became a better-fortified castle in the 16th century.
In 1547, Lord Balassa Menyhért took Csábrág from Pálffy Péter, as Pálffy was loyal to King Habsburg Ferdinand. However, Ferdinand’s general, Count Salm, retook it for Pálffy Péter in 1549 and placed a royal guard in the castle. You can read more about Lord Balassa Menyhárt’s deeds here:
Pálffy’s daughter, Katalin, got married to Krusich János, a valiant Dalmatian Castellan of Csábrág. Lord Krusich has refortified and defended the castle several times against the Turks, who often raided Csábrág after occupying Nógrád, Drégely, Szécsény, and other nearby castles. After Krusich’s death, in 1582, his widow got married to Illésházy István (later Palatine) who came into the possession of the castle.
In 1584, the Viennese military circles were thinking seriously about demolishing Csábrág castle to place its garrison closer to the Mining Towns District. Fortunately, the plan was soon abandoned, and the following year, Italian architect Giulio Ferrari, the designer of the fortifications of Korpona and Bakabánya, further strengthened the castle. It was also supplied with larger quantities of ammunition.
During the Bocskai uprising on December 28, 1604, the Prince’s Hajdús took Drégelypalánk and then occupied Csábrág. With the death of the widow of Illésházy István in 1622, King Ferdinand II donated the castle to Baron Koháry Péter, a vice-general of the king. During the anti-Habsburg uprisings, the troops of Bethlen Gábor, Rákóczy György, Thököly Imre, and Rákóczi Ferenc occupied Csábrág castle despite the Koháry family’s resistance who have remained loyal to the Habsburgs.
All in all, the raiding Ottoman troops could never take the castle. After the defeat of the last uprising, Csábrág’s military role ceased to exist and it served only as a summer castle of the Kohárys, as it stood in a wild and scenic location. At the beginning of the 19th century, the last Koháry left the five-hundred-year-old rock castle in bad condition and moved to the more accessible, more comfortable Szentantal and chose it as his permanent residence. Csábrág Castle was set on fire by Koháry Ferenc in 1812, and since then the formerly famous castle has been uninhabited.
Csábrág Castle consists of several parts. The palace is located on the hilltop and is surrounded by the walls of the inner castle. On the lower levels, there are protective belts fortified by huge rectangular bastions. The ruins were partially overgrown with trees and bushes, but its multi-story walls are still extremely spectacular. Below the hill, there is the small settlement of Csábrágváralja, which is now uninhabited, its houses are crumbling and being destroyed. Now, the castle is being restored very nicely.
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