Németújvár now is in Austria and it is called Güssing. Németújvár Castle used to be called earlier “Kőszeg” but there is a castle not very far away in Hungary with the same name, its German name is Güns. Güssing / Németúvár (meaning: German-new-castle) was built in 1157. It is the oldest castle of the Hungarian Őrvidék (Burgenland) region, it is also a regional landmark.
The settlement first appeared in a document issued by King Géza II of Hungary in 1157, it was called “Kiscen”. In this document, the king gave permission to Count Walfer, a Styrian nobleman from the village of Wildon to build a monastery there for the Benedictine monks. It was King Béla III who had a stone castle constructed on the site of this monastery and it was called „novum castrum” (new castle) at that time. The Hungarian name of the castle is Németújvár that stands for “German-New-Castle”.
The castle used to be a royal property like almost all the castles had been in the age of the Árpád dynasty. However, it became a private castle in 1270 when it was given to the Styrian count’s family. It was the time when the word “Német” (German) was added to “Újvár” (New Castle) so it became Németújvár castle. The warlike counts were terrorizing the area, making lots of trouble to the Hungarian king and to the Austrian princes alike. They were fighting against King László IV, and against King Endre II just like Prince Albert of Austria. (Please, note that I am using the Eastern name order for Hungarian names where the family names come first.)
It was in the hands of the Counts of Németújvár until the end of the 13th century. After the Árpád-dynasty got disconnected, it was King Anjou Károly Róbert who was able to break the counts’ power. The Hungarian royal troops, led by Köcski Sándor, took Németújvár castle and the king resettled the rebelling counts to a far-away land. King Zsigmond gave the castle to the Lévai family but the fort became the property of the wealthy Újlaki family in the middle of the 15th century. Németújvár was the place where the high-ranking aristocrats of Hungary who were against the coronation of Matthias Corvinus, met under the leadership of Voivode Újlaki Miklós of Transylvania in order to elect King Frederick III as king of Hungary in 1459.
King Matthias took Németújvár back in 1495 before he captured the city of Vienna. When Lord Újlaki Lőrinc died, King Louis II gave the castle to the Batthyány family in 1524 thus it has become the residence of the Batthyány family, one of the most distinguished magnate families in Hungary. The Batthyány family played a significant role in both fightings against the Ottoman conquerors and in promoting the Hungarian culture. The fort had a greater role in the wars against the Ottomans. The Turks put the town on fire in 1532 but could not take the castle. You can read more about the siege of 1532 of the famous castle that stood not far away from Németújvár (Günsing), it was Kőszeg (Güns):
Lord Batthyány Boldizsár used to be a learned person who received his education in western countries where he became the friend of Martin Luther. Lord Boldizsár became an outstanding supporter of Protestantism in Hungary. Upon returning home, he chased away the monks in 1569 and turned the town into a Protestant settlement.
He assisted in the founding of the famous printing house of Manlius in 1582. They published 16 books in 3 years: 8 were written in the Hungarian language, the rest in German or in Latin. The first one was the work of the Protestant preacher of Németújvár, Beythe István: “Köröztyéni Tudománnak rövis summája… „(The short summary of Christian knowledge) Also, the Latin-Hungarian dictionary of plants and vegetables of Pannonia, by Carolus Clusius was printed there. Clusius (1526-1609) was recommending the book to the Hungarians who are interested in botanica and added that he had learned the knowledge of botanica from his father, Beythe István. Carolus Clusius was sponsored by Batthyány Boldizsár and was collecting rare plants in order to make the area of Németújvár a nicer place.
The castle remained loyal to the Habsburgs during the uprising of Prince Bocskai István in 1605. However, it opened the gates before the troops of Prince Bethlen Gábor of Transylvania in 1619. The Franciscan monks returned in 1648 when Battyhiány Ádám re-Catholized. The fort welcomed Thököly’s army in 1683 but later the Batthyány family returned to the Emperor’s side.
Nevertheless, the lords of the castle didn’t support Prince Rákóczi Ferenc II during his War of Independence between 1703-1711, despite most of the noblemen of Vas County turned against the Habsburgs. The Batthyány family members decided to take up arms in defense of their king, though. The castle was partially demolished in 1775, due to a tax law of Emperor Joseph II.
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