The castle of Osgyán (Ozdany) is located in the Upper lands/Horná Zem/Felvidék, it can be found in Slovakia. It is 10 km from Rimaszombat (Rimavská Sobota) to the west. It is hard to find the way there, but once you have arrived you can see how the majestic Renaissance corner bastions and the leaking roofs fight their unbalanced last battle against the attacks of bushes, thorns, and human neglect. Now, you cannot see the above-mentioned roof as it fell victim to fire on 3 October 2019.
Before talking about the history of this castle, the sad incident must be discussed. In fact, it was not just a mere incident, according to the police it could have been arson as the fire began at several points at the same time, and despite the wet weather, it spread rapidly inward. The Slovakian ministry said that it was the owner, of the castle the Bystrica Transport Company (Bystrická dopravná spoločnosť) who can be made fully responsible for the disaster. According to the ministry, in spite of having received a huge income in 2018, the private owner had failed to apply for available grants for the maintenance and renovation of Osgyán castle.
The damage exceeds 300,000 EURO but a local major said that the fire at least highlighted the pitifully neglected condition of this Renaissance castle-palace. Now, there are some hopes that Osgyán castle can be renovated in the future. However, there are a few skeptic people who say this time might come only after many long years, and they point at the renovation of Krasznahorka castle. It also fell victim to arson but the renovation has not been finished for 7 years, allegedly it will have been completed by 2023. These castles are both parts of the Slovakian and Hungarian national historical heritage, we can equally be proud of them.
There are quite a few logical questions left unanswered. Where is the responsibility of the state? What about the responsibility of the Cultural Heritage Management Office? How could such a Renaissance building be sold by the state to private owners at all? I hope that we can contribute to the rebuilding of Osgyán and Krasznahorka castles by spreading their history in the English-speaking world. However, there are many nice examples of how the local Slovakians and local Hungarians joined forces in order to rebuild their old castle. Personally, I would like to see it restored before soon because my family had been deported (like so many Hungarian families) from Gömör County in 1946. As for Krasznahorka, you can read more about its history here:
The history of Osgyán castle
Osgyán was first mentioned in the 13th century when the initial castle was built. The Hungarian Queen Erzsébet called the Bohemian Czech Hussite mercenary soldiers of Jan Giskra into the country after 1440 in order to protect her son from the usurpers. They became fond of the country and decided to stay and seized huge territories in the middle and eastern parts of the Hungarian Upper Lands. It was during this time that they also took Osgyán. The army of King Matthias took these lands back between 1459 and 1462 by either beating the Bohemian Hussites in battle or hiring them as mercenaries.
The previous owners, the Orlay (Orlle) family, were re-established in Osgyán around 1462. It is assumed that it was Orlay Miklós who turned it into a fortified castle around 1550 because it was close to Fülek castle and the Turks were heavily raiding the area. (Please, note that I use the Eastern name order for Hungarians where family names come first.) We don’t know whether Osgyán was ever taken by the Ottomans, but it is almost certain that it had to withstand their attacks. The settlement lay on the northernmost fringe of the Ottoman Empire and the inhabitants lived every day in danger.
Lord Bakos János was the next person who gained the castle in 1590. This lord had the feudal right to hold a blood court in Osgyán. It meant that he had the right to execute criminals on his own land. At this time, it was already an agricultural town. Bakos was a learned man and when the Turks took Fülek castle, he gave a home to the high school of Fülek in Osgyán at the beginning of the 17th century. We know that the castle used to be in the hands of the Szakál, Vajna, then the Korponay and the Luzsénszky families in different periods.
The present Renaissance look of the castle came from its construction during the first part of the 17th century on the foundations of the earlier fort. The castle became famous for the Battle of Osgyán when General Giovanni Basta of the Habsburg king, defeated the forces of Prince Bocskai’s captain, Balázs Németi in 1604. I described the battle of Osgyán in my book “33 Castles, Battles, Legends” but let me give you a short summary of the fight:
General Basta had 15-20,000 men while the Hajdú captain had 4,000 peasants and 4,000 Hajdú soldiers. Németi (or Némethy) gathered his hard men and got into the stately home of Osgyán to cover the withdrawal of his soldiers. When only 500 people remained alive in the ruined castle, Basta offered them to go freely away but didn’t keep his word. The small palace was only surrounded by a weak fence and Basta soon destroyed the buildings with his cannons. The defenders tried to break out but in vain: most of them died in trying so, only a few succeeded. Némethy got seriously injured on his left arm and was taken into captivity. Basta wanted to know more about Prince Bocskai’s army so he had Németi hanged up-side-down on a tree but the tough captain betrayed nothing. Then he was imprisoned and sentenced to death. When he was escorted to the place of execution, he grabbed the executioner’s sword and killed him; he cut down many mercenaries as well before he went under.
Baron Orlay István owned Osgyán in 1631 when he was appointed as Chief Comes of Gömör County. He held this office until his death, in 1641. The Transylvanian Prince Rákóczi György I and Habsburg King Ferdinand III made peace in Linz in 1645 and Osgyán was given to Bakos Gábor who became loyal to the Habsburg monarch for this. A Diet in 1647 decided in Pozsony (Bratislava, Pressburg) that as the Ottomans were still in the neighborhood, the castle had to be reinforced as protection against them. Later, the king took the castle back in 1666 because Bakos Gábor died without an heir.
Soon, the Géczy family took ownership. Osgyán was on Vienna’s side when it was attacked in 1678 by the Hungarian Kuruc rebels, but we do not know the outcome of that clash. All we know is that the fort had to be reinforced again in 1681 against the rebelling Hungarians, according to the ruling of the Diet. During the War of Independence of Prince Rákóczi Ferenc II, (1704-1711), Osgyán’s overlord was Géczy Zsigmond. His daughter was Géczy Julia who later became the wife of the Kuruc captain, Korponay János. Julia was the legendary “white woman” of Lőcse city.
At least the castle of Osgyán escaped the fate of so many Hungarian forts and the Habsburgs did not have it totally destroyed after Rákóczi’s revolution. Inevitably though, the outer walls were pulled down and the moat was filled up later by the new owners. The castle was seriously damaged in WWII and the renovation only began in the 1970s. The castle got a new roof in 2003 but the rest of the Renaissance building was still in ruins in 2006. Look at the pictures taken before the fire of 2019. (I wrote this article in 2020.)
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Here are more pictures of Osgyán: