Dévény (Devín, Theben) Castle used to guard the western border of the Hungarian Kingdom where the Danube and the Morva rivers meet, on the summit of a 212 meters high cliff. Now it is situated eight kilometers from the city center of Pozsony (Bratislava, Pressburg). It is located in the Upper lands/Horná Zem/Felvidék, it can be found in Slovakia. You can see the Castle of Hainburg from the walls, opposing Dévény on the Austrian side of the Danube River.
Its palisade castle was mentioned under the name of „Dowina” as early as 864 AD. The fort saw the huge Battle of Pozsony in 907 when the Hungarians defeated the great army of Louis the Child. The royal stone fortress was built between 1242-1271 and it was called Dyven in 1288. As for the village that used to serve the castle, it was first mentioned as Villa Thebyn in 1237.
The castle was the gate between Hungary and Austria so it witnessed lots of contests. The Austrian Frederick of Badenberg assaulted and took it in 1234 but he gave it back to King Béla IV soon. Emperor Maximilian granted some privileges to it in 1568 and it boasts a palace from the 17th century which became a monastery of the Jesuits. There is a gothic church from the early 1300s as well.
The fortress used to be circled by outer walls that reached down to the Danube River but it can not be seen now. As for the size of the castle, even the remains are quite impressive. Dévény was attacked by Czech King Ottokar II in 1271 who held it for a while. The area was frequently attacked by the Czech troops in the next period and Dévény Castle had a strategic role in defending the border against them.
The whole of Pozsony County was under Austrian rule between 1301 and 1323 in order to pay the expenses of Ágnes von Habsburg who used this income for her upkeep in her nunnery. The area returned to the crown in 1323 but it had Bohemian Czech owners again between 1386 and 1389.
The Hungarian King Zsigmond was always short of money so he pledged Dévény to the Austrian Baron Lessel Hering for eight thousand gold Forints. It was Palatine Garai Miklós who bought it back in 1414 and began major construction works in the castle.
He had the middle castle built and the Garai palace in it. The German King Frederick III occupied the western counties in 1444 and Dévény got in his hands, too. He owned it until 1450 when according to the peace treaty, Dévény returned to the Garai family. As Baron Jób Garai left no male child behind, the oligarch`s domains were inherited by the Royal Treasury in 1481.
King Matthias Corvinus reinforced his rule by gifting Dévény Castle to the greatest landlords of the Small Carpathian Mountain Area, the Bazini, and the Szentgyörgyi families. They had a huge lower castle built that defended the harbor of the fortress. As Dévény was very close to Pozsony castle, it was always used as a private fort and as a result of this, it was not properly updated to answer the challenges of the developing firearms. Dévény was obtained by the wealthy Báthori family in the first part of the 16th century.
Palatine Báthori István, the foster-father of late King Louis II, played a shameful role in the putting down of the Peasant War in 1514 and he was also accused of fraud some years later. He is blamed for his role in the Battle of Mohács as well and on top of this, he sided with Archduke Habsburg Ferdinand in 1527. The „lame” Báthori allowed the troops of Ferdinand to pass undisturbed below the cannons of Dévény Castle when the usurper had his army marched against King Szapolyai János of Hungary.
Dévény Castle was not besieged by the Ottoman army in 1529 when they wanted to take Vienna. The ill-reputed Báthori died in Dévény in 1530. The defenders of the castle remained faithful to King Habsburg Rudolf in 1605 when Prince Bocskai István led his troops against the Austrians.
The Báthory family owned the castle until 1609. Shortly after this, the Habsburgs pledged Dévény to Count Keglevich for 400,000 gold Forints. When the army of Prince Bethlen Gábor of Transylvania surprised and took Pozsony with an ambush in 1619, the small garrison of Dévény surrendered the fort. It has changed owners quite often in these struggles because its walls were not adequate against the more advanced artillery of the age.
General Buquoy took it back easily for the Habsburgs in 1621. Count Keglevich sold it immediately to the Palocsai family for a nice profit in the same year. The owner of the pledge-right over the castle became the Pálffy family in 1635. The Ottomans attacked Vienna in 1683 and they tried to take Dévény, too, but all their efforts were in vain.
The Pálffy family was perhaps the wealthiest and the most loyal family to the Habsburgs. It was the reason why Dévény was not exploded after the War of Independence of Prince Rákóczi Ferenc II. The castle lost its military importance in 1711. Nevertheless, the troops of Bonaparte Napoleon had Dévény Castle exploded, along with the castles of Győr and Borostyánkő in 1809. The French buried the well of the castle with stones, too.
Now, the armies of tourists are besieging the majestic ruins of Dévény Castle. This film can describe the area very thoroughly but it is only available in the Hungarian language: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HZb4gXYwyqI and here is a shorter one, from the Slovakian point of view: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwkXT1zT5Hs
This article contains Amazon ads. By purchasing through these links, you can help my work at no added cost to you. Below, you can find my books in various editions (color/black-and-white, paperback, hardcover, ebook) Thank you very much.
My work can also be followed and supported on Patreon:
Here are more pictures of Dévény castle: