Fülek (Filakovo) is located in the Upper lands/Horná Zem/Felvidék, now Slovakia, next to the border. It is quite near to the place (Felsővály) where my family had come from.
Here is a video of the castle as it would have possibly looked like in the 16th century:
The first written document of the castle is from 1242. but the role of Fülek and its town has become very important only in the 16th century because of the Turkish peril.
After the Battle of Mohács, its captain was Lord Bebek Ferenc as he had wed the daughter of Ráskai Balázs. Bebek had the castle reinforced with the help of the Italian Alessandro da Vedano in 1551.
Yet, the Turks took the castle from him, although not by the sword but by deception. The Ottomans had owned it for 39 years and Fülek was the gate to raid the Hungarian mining towns. Szokoli Mustafa built many new buildings in the town and in the castle, including a minaret. The garrison consisted of 49 Janissaries, 177 riders and 89 Asab infantrymen between 1556-1557.
Ten years later, they had 59 Topchies, artillerymen in the castle. There were ten Beys between 1554–1593 who led the castle: Kara Hamza (until 1556), Velidzsan (1562–1564), Arszlán (1564), Mehmed (1575), Has(s)zán (1576), Mahmud (1579), Korkud (1579-1590), Ali (1591) and Juszuf (1593).
From Fülek, the Ottomans could reach the area around the castle of Murány in 1562. Bey Ferhard Haszán could occupy the area near Miskolc and Krsznahorka. The castle of Salgó was taken by the Ottomans in 1554. The opposing castle, Somoskő, resisted for 22 more years but it also had to be yielded after a short battle by its captain, Modolóczi Miklós.
The castle of Várgede could resist from 1560-1571 but the Turks of Fülek took it when the garrison was decreased. The Ottomans ruined it shortly after.
Ajnácskő castle also fell to them in 1566. When the people of Dobsina denied paying taxes to them in 1580, the Bey set out with his marauders and sacked and burnt their city in 1584. He took away 350 people who were sold in Fülek on its slave market, among other 2,000 other Christians.
General Tieffenbach Kristóf and Pálffy Miklós took it back in 1593 when the Turk captain, Ofressus, was not at home. The Turks surrendered the castle to the 4,000 strong Christian armies, after a fierce fight.
Although, 300 Turkish families decided to stay in the city. The castles of Salgó and Somoskő were also retaken. Sörényi Mihály was Fülek’s captain in 1598 then the title was given to Honorius Tonhauser in 1599.
The heydays of the castle were in the 17th century. During the revolt of Prince Bocskai István, Rhédey Ferenc’s men took Gömör county in 1604 but Fülek was too strong to them.
The Turkish Janissaries helped Bocskai’s troops to take Fülek castle for him from the Habsburg king, in the following year.
Fülek had a strategic location and its famous captains were the Wesselényi and the Bosnyák family members. It was the Bosnyák family’s property from 1607 and during the 1630s.
Fülek used to be the center of Nógrád county. A terrible fire destroyed the city and the castle in 1615 and they could rebuild it only by 1619. Prince Bethlen Gábor of Transylvania took Fülek in 1619 but it was soon retaken in 1621 by the Habsburgs, with the help of Szécsi György. The quick success was due to Fülek’s captain who betrayed Prince Bethlen but after surrendering the castle died the next day. Rhédey took the castle over from him.
Prince Bethlen tried to retake Fülek with 10,000 men but failed in doing so. King Ferdinand II gave the castle to Lady Bosnyák Judit in 1630. The huge evangelic church was built at that time but the town could boast with two public baths, too.
The evangelic high school also opened its gates. Sadly, most of the old buildings perished before 1682.
The castle’s captain was Wesselényi Ádám between 1650 and 1664 but the chief captain became Baron Koháry István from 1657 on. There were 197 German infantrymen, 300 hussars, 150 Hajdú soldiers, 25 artillerymen in the castle in 1652.
The Koháry family reinforced the castle in 1672 in fear of the Thököly revolt. Prince Thököly Imre tried to take it in 1678 but in vain. The prince laid a second siege in 1682. The castle was defended by 4,000 soldiers (including the inhabitants) and was attacked by 60,000. Thököly paid 20,000 thalers to a peasant called Braka András who promised him to put the castle on fire but the man was caught and brutally executed.
Finally, Koháry’s men have yielded the castle, against his will. It was after the siege, that the Ottomans had the castle exploded.
The story of a Hungarian warrior from Fülek castle is worth the telling. His name was Balogh Benedek, he was the leader of the Hungarian raiders of Fülek. The Hungarian raiders had been constant visitors of the Turkish-Occupied Lands to the south, near Szeged and on the Great Hungarian Plains during the 1610s and 1620s. Sometimes they posed a threat against the Hungarian cities and villages as well, not just to the spahi-owned timar lands.
The Hungarian warrior concerned happened to be from Szeged and knew the Turks very well. Once he was informed that a high-ranking Turkish officer would travel to muster the Ottoman castles of the area. Balogh and his people ambushed the officer and cut him down along with his men. Then, they dressed in their clothes and entered the Castle of Szeged, showing the guards the officer’s credentials. The Bey of Szeged received them and gave them some soldiers to guard them on their way back. When they were far enough from the castle of Szeged, Balogh’s men attacked their envoys and slaughtered them.