Lipótújvár (Liptovsky Hrádok) is located in the Upper lands/Horná Zem/Felvidék, in Slovakia. The fort was built near to the confluence of the Béla Stream and the Vág River, in Liptó County.
Liptó County used to be covered by huge forests and it was scantly populated by a few Slavic people. The first villages were built in the valleys during the period of the Hungarian Árpád Dynasty. These villages belonged to the Forest Comes of Zólyom (Zvolen).
After the fall of the Árpád Dynasty, Anjou King Károly Róbert had to overcome the mighty Hungarian oligarch, Lord Csák Máté who had huge lands on the northern side of the kingdom. Csák Máté governed his domains from Trencsény Castle and Master Dancs, son of Csorba Domokos (who was the Forest Comes of Zólyom at the same time) had to bow his head before the oligarch.
However, the Anjou king defeated Lord Csák at Rozgony and Master Dancs decided to support the new king according to a document from 1314. He joined the king with his feudal army and took back the area of Árva, Liptó, and Turóc Counties from the oligarch. As a result of this, he was awarded lands in 1316 and he got the domain of “Belezk” where Dancs soon built Lipótújvár Castle.
It was called “Újvár” (meaning: new castle in the Hungarian language) because there had been a royal castle nearby that was called Lipótóvár (Lipót old castle) but it was built after the Mongolian invasion of 1242.
Master Dancs, the ancestor of the Balassa family, built the new castle not on the neighboring hilltop that is 796 meters high but on the top of a lower cliff. It was just a small fort, in the beginning, with a palisade and a horseshoe-shaped stone tower and the long palace buildings. Újvár belonged to the family until 1341 when they exchanged it for another domain and Újvár returned to the king. Its lord was the Royal Comes of Liptó, appointed by the king.
King Zsigmond pledged the castle to his Queen, Borbála Cillei in 1430. The Bohemian Hussites were called in by Queen Borbála who wanted to secure the throne for her baby son. The Hussites, led by Holy Prokop attacked the area in 1433 and took the castle for a short time but it was the property of the Rikalf family in 1441. It was Tarkői Rikalf János who supported the new king, Ulászló, against the Hussites of Queen Borbála. He was rewarded with the castle and its villages but he had to bend his knee before the powerful Hussite mercenary leader, Jan Giskra in 1449.
The most infamous period of Lipótújvár castle commenced in 1450 when a Polish robber-knight, Peter Komorowsky seized it in an unknown way. The robber-knight held the forts of Likava, Blatnica, and Liptóóvár as well, controlling a large area. His men-at-arms were looting the villages and robbed the merchants. His power was so large that he didn’t obey King László V who gave Lipótújvár Castle to Baron Pongrác of Szentmiklós. The Baron was not strong enough to take the place in 1453. Read more about Likava Castle here: https://www.hungarianottomanwars.com/kingdom-of-hungary/likava/
Komorowsky was beaten out only in 1462 when the king’s general, Szapolyai István led his men to clean the Upper Lands. It was the Szapolyai family who owned it between 1462 and 1527. Yet, his rule was not continuous: King Matthias Corvinus gifted the castle to Lord Rikalf Zsigmond. However, Lord Rikalf happened to join forces with the robber-knight Komorowsky and they were terrorizing the surrounding lands together.
Moreover, Lord Rikalf began to support the Polish Prince Kázmér who tried to usurp the throne of Matthias Corvinus. Rikalf was wrong because the army of King Matthias took his castle and settled the case with the Polish as well. You can read more about this campaign of the king here:
As King Matthias had no legitimate heir, he wanted to appoint his natural son, Prince Corvin János as the next king of Hungary. He gave him many lands and castles, including Liptóújvár in 1479. The Prince was just six years old at that time when he became the Duke of Liptó and the Count of Hunyad. The private property of the Prince in 1490 consisted of 30 castles, 17 castle-palaces, 47 agricultural towns, and about 1,000 villages. Yet, after the death of King Matthias, the aristocrats and barons elected the Czech King Ulászló. Prince Corvin was gradually forced out from his properties and Liptóújvár Castle has returned to Palatine Szapolyai István in 1496. His son, Szapolyai János inherited it.
When Szapolyai János became king of Hungary in 1526, Habsburg Ferdinand attacked him and was fighting him out of the kingdom. It was how King Ferdinand’s troops, led by Pekry Lajos gained Lipótújvár Castle in 1533. Ferdinand rewarded him with the ownership of Lipótújvár and Likava castles.
However, Pekry shouldn’t have supported the Habsburg usurper: he was falsely accused and arrested by Ferdinand and taken to Graz. He didn’t even have a trial; when he was released from the dungeon, he was a sick man in 1544. As Ferdinand had already taken Liptóújvár from him, he went to Likava Castle.
Then, Ferdinand pledged Lipótújvár to Lord Balassa János for a large sum of gold but the new owner wasn’t lucky, either. He was also charged and arrested and taken to the dungeons of Pozsony (Bratislava, Pressburg) Castle by Ferdinand. Then, he was pardoned and died in 1577. His son, the famous Renaissance poet, and warrior, Balassi Bálint inherited the castle after him. All in all, the Balassa family owned it between 1554 and 1601.
Lord Bálint spent 3,300 Gold Forints on the construction of a new and strong stone wall in 1587. Part of the money came from the Royal Chamber, though. Then, Lord Bálint gave all of his lands to his brother Ferenc in September 1589, and on one night he rode to Poland. He returned only when the Turk war started, the 15-Year-War in which he heroically lost his life. His child, János inherited his lands but the boy died in 1601. It was how Lipótújvár Castle has returned to the king.
After this, came the Sándorffy family who paid 33,000 Gold Forints to the king for the castle but they owned it only for three years. It was the wife of Lord Sándorffy Miklós, Lady Zay Magdolna who enlarged and converted the castle, adding a nice Renaissance castle-palace to it.
Then the Pográny family owned it for 19 years. Later, it belonged to the Ostrosith family between 1623-1671. It was the period when the Habsburgs were systematically and stupidly alienating their wealthy Hungarian subjects by taking away their money and properties. Eventually, Lord Ostrosith Mátyás became involved in a conspiracy against the Habsburg king. Emperor Leopold’s mercenaries seized it in 1671 for the need for money.
The rebels of Prince Thököly Imre took it for a short time in 1678, then the Emperor gave it to his trusted man, Liechtenstein János. It was a ruin in 1709. Lots of salt, iron ore, and copper can be found around the castle. The renaissance palace that was built next to the castle is from 1802.
An exhibition was opened in the palace in 1970 that displayed the folk customs of the area but it was closed in 1990. The buildings were in very bad shape in 2001 but fortunately, a private investor bought it and established a comfortable inn. As far as I know, there has not been archeological reconstruction in the castle.
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