Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars

Kovászó

Kovászó castle (Photo: Imre Lánczi)

Kovászó castle is located in the Subcarpathian Region, in Ukraine. It is 12 kilometers from Beregszász to the East, on the right bank of the Borzsa river, and 6 kilometers from the closest border crossing point with Hungary (Újlak-Tiszabecs). The ruins can be found on a small hill near Kovászó (Квасове, Kvaszove / Kvasove) village, between Nagybereg and Bene villages. The railway station of Bene village is 4 kilometers from there.

Kovászó castle on an old postcard before 1944 (Source: Benő Gyula)

The surroundings of Kovászó castle are very scenic. Similar to the neighboring castle of Szerednye, it was built in the 12th-14th century, most likely in the 13th. It used to be a typical stone tower with 2-meter-wide walls, it was the dwelling place of the landlord, with an attached stone wall. The tower was 12-meter in diameter, it is located on the southwestern corner of the castle. A building used to belong to the tower’s southern part. The main entrance of the castle was on the southwestern side. A 15-meter-high cliff defended its northern side, and a deep moat surrounded it. 

Kovászó castle

Kovászó castle had an important role, it was controlling the road where large quantities of salt were transported from the mines into the kingdom. The Kingdom of Hungary used to be the largest salt-producing country in Medieval Europe. Read more about the “white gold” of the kingdom here:

https://www.hungarianottomanwars.com/essays/salt-the-white-gold-of-hungary/

Inside a salt mine in Torda, Transylvania

The name “Kovászó” was mentioned first in 1270, in the form of “Koazov”. This name means “yeast” in the Hungarian language but it may have derived from a similar Slavic word with the same meaning. According to another theory, the name of Kovászó village came from the large Kovas cliff that stands next to the settlement. (“Kova” means flint in the Hungarian language.)

 

According to a document, King Zsigmond gave Kovászó castle and its village to Master János, the son of Nagymihályi György in 1390. Later, the Jakcsi family owned the castle and the surrounding lands but the Báthori family sued them and took the property away. However, the Jakcsi family did not accept the judgment and they took the village back by force. We find the castle in the hands of Matuznai Miklós and his daughter, Dorottya in 1495. Please, note that I use the Oriental name order for Hungarians where family names come first.

Kovászó castle (Photo: Imre Lánczi)

Captain Kávási Kristóf of Huszt castle took the castle away from the Matuznai family by force in 1540 and he wanted to get the property officially as well. Somehow he managed it with the help of the Convent of Lelesz. The Matuznai family sued him in 1542 but the Convent of Lelesz refused it, claiming that Kávási had paid money for the property. As a result of this, the Kávási family became the owner in 1543. They had two mills and a vinery that belonged to the castle, too. However, the conflict did not cease between the two families, and finally, the Matuznai family won the case.

Kovászó castle (Photo: Imre Lánczi)

We know, that Matuznai Pál was a robber knight and used Kovászó castle for plundering the area with his mercenaries between 1557 and 1562. It was the period after the bloody Dual Kingship of Hungary (1526-1541) when Royal Hungary was split into three parts, the western side was ruled by King Habsburg Ferdinand II while the eastern part was in the hand of the elected but not crowned Hungarian King János Zsigmond, the son of King Szapolyai János. Many robber knights took advantage of their contest.

Kovászó castle (Photo: Imre Lánczi)

Matuznai Pál soon quit supporting King János Zsigmond and took the side of King Ferdinand. As a result of this, János Zsigmond confiscated his property in 1562 and gave an order to the Chief Captain of his kingdom to survey the importance of Kovászó castle. The king wanted to demolish the castle to defend the inhabitants of the area against further peril. Yet, his order was not carried out at that time.

Kovászó castle (Photo: Imre Lánczi)

 Finally, the castle of Kovászó was destroyed by the Imperial army of General Schwendli Lázár in 1564 when he was on the way from Kassa (Kosice, Kaschau) to Munkács castle. Against all the odds, the village remained the property of the Matuznai family. Most likely, the castle could not have been totally demolished because people took shelter in it when the Crimean Tatars were devastating the land in 1657. Then, the Tatars completed the job and pulled down the rest of the walls. The castle has never been rebuilt since then.

You can watch a short video of Kovászó castle here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fmVYch9X994

Source: Wikipedia and https://www.karpatinfo.net.ua/

Kovászó castle (Photo: Imre Lánczi)

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Here are a few more pictures of Kovászó castle:

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