Érsekújvár (Nove Zamky, Neuhäus(e)l) is located in the Upper lands/Horná Zem/Felvidék, it is in Slovakia. A fortress was built, against the Ottoman Turks, on the site of an older settlement in the years 1545-46 and between 1573–81. It was the Archbishop of Esztergom, Oláh Miklós, who had the palisade fort rebuilt. Archbishop means “Érsek” in Hungarian while “újvár” stands for “new castle”.
You can read more about Oláh Miklós here:
In the beginning, it was also called “Oláhújvár”, after its builder. The town developed around the fortress. The huge new fortress was one of the most modern fortresses in Europe when it was built, a prime example of the star fortress which was considered to be adapted to the advance in artillery in the preceding centuries.
It was Cardinal Pázmány Péter who had the archbishop’s palace built here in 1620 in order to fight Protestantism. He consecrated there the Franciscan church and monastery. Érsekújvár had a well-fortified and modern castle and thus was considered a strategic place near the Bohemian border.
The Ottomans failed to conquer it six times. However, they occupied it for shorter periods: between 1566–1595 and 1605–1606). They were able to take it in 1663, too. Let us see how it happened:
It was made the center of an Ottoman vilayet in Upper Hungary. The saying “Strong as a Turk in front of Érsekújvár”, which means working with determination and stability, reflects the memory of the conquest determination of the Turks. In 1685 it was reconquered by the imperial troops of Charles V, Duke of Lorraine.
The retaking of Érsekújvár on 19 August 1685
The Habsburg Military Council made a decision of occupying Érsekújvár in the first part of 1685. Soon, the army of General Donat Heissler besieged it and tried to starve the defenders. Indeed, there was great starvation in the castle but the garrison did not surrender it.
The besiegers received reinforcement on 7 July, led by Duke Charles of Lorraine, and the systematic siege began. Yet, they could not go on with it undisturbed because the army of Grand Vizier Sejtán Ibrahim arrived at Esztergom castle three weeks later. Prince Charles left behind a strong besieging army at Érsekújvár and took the other part of his army to beat the Grand Vizier. You can read more about his victory here:
While Duke Charles was away, General Caprara was in charge of the besiegers. He continued creating trenches and got closer and closer to the walls. The defenders were fighting desperately back, causing some losses to the Imperials but they could not hinder Caprara. The cannons were bombarding the walls from up close. The artillery fire destroyed the defenders’ cannons on 15 August. Two days later Caprara was able to send cavalrymen against the demolished walls. They decided on the final and general assault and assigned 3,000 picked men but due to the heavy rain, they had to postpone it to 19 August. The attack was so powerful that almost all the defenders perished in the struggle while the Imperials had a lot fewer casualties.
Six years later, it received town privileges from the archbishop of Esztergom. The town also played an important role in many anti-Habsburg uprisings in the northern parts of Royal Hungary in the 17th century. Emperor Charles VI had it razed in 1724–1725, to prevent potential further insurrections which would use the fortress as their base.
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