Ozora is in the southern part of Hungary, it was mentioned first in 1009. It can boast a nicely renovated Gothic-Renaissance castle. The oblong castle is in fact a two-story building, with elements built in the Gothic style on its yard where we can see a semicircular frame of the cellar gate. The moat around the castle’s walls is still trackable. Initially, the gate of the stronghold used to be on the western side of the castle but it was walled in. It used to have a drawbridge, too. The castle was defended also by stone towers.
The place was mentioned as “Azara” in 1315, as the property of the Ozorai family. (Note, I use the Eastern name order for Hungarian names where family names come first.) Lord Ozorai András had no male heir but ha had a daughter, Ozorai Borbála. Borbála was the daughter of the last member of the Ozora family, and she wed the Italian Philippo Scolari in 1399. It was the reason why he began to use his name as Ozorai Pipo, aka Pipo of Ozora.
He became an excellent soldier and King Zsigmond promoted him in 1404 to be the Chief of Temes County. Two years later, the king gave him Ozora castle as well as its villages that belonged to it. Not much later in 1416, King Zsigmond also gave him permission to employ Italian architects and masons so as to enlarge the smaller castle of his father-in-law. It is assumed that his architect was Manettó Ammannatini from Florence. A document issued in 1426 mentions it as a castle, it was called “Castrum Ozora”.
Lord Pipo’s job was to defend the southern borders of Hungary against the Ottomans. Accordingly, Pipo of Ozora led 18 victorious campaigns against the Muslims. He was also in charge of the king’s gold and salt mines. Without his talent, King Zsigmond would have had a harder time managing the southern defenses of the kingdom. Also, Lord Pipo was the first military tutor of Hunyadi János, you can read more about it here:
After Pipo’s death in 1426, his widow Borbála left the castle behind to Palatine Héderváry Lőrinc in 1438. Her only condition was, that István and Imre, the sons of Héderváry Lőrinc would let her handle the castle until the end of her life. We find the castle of Ozora in the hands of Lőrinc and Ferenc, the sons of Héderváry Miklós in 1491 who received it as a “new” gift from King Ulászló II.
However, the fort was overrun and plundered in the same year by the Habsburgs’ mercenaries who left it before soon. Héderváry Ferenc, the Duke (Bán) of Nándorfehérvár (Belgrade) borrowed 18,000 gold Forints from his wife on 10 July 1521, so as to spend it on military expenses against the Ottomans. In exchange for this sum, he pledged Ozora and other properties to her, “Castra sua Ozora et Thamasy vocata in Tholmensi”.
Unfortunately, this money has never arrived in Nándorfehérvár, and it fell in 1521. King Louis (Lajos) II took away Ozora and its villages from the unfaithful and greedy Héderváry. Instead, the young king gave it to his mean and unfaithful treasurer Thurzó Elek of Bethlenfalva in 1524. The Kingdom of Hungary sank into a financial crisis and the king led fewer soldiers against the Ottomans in 1526 than he would have liked to.
After his death at Mohács, Szapolyai János became the next king of Hungary. He promptly took back the castles of Ozora and Tamási and gifted them to Mrs. Héderváry Ferencné (Csáky Borbála) on 27 November 1526. The Convent of Székesfehérvár registered the event.
Lord Héderváry Ferenc seemed to have paid the loan back to his wife because Ozora was in his widow’s hand in 1530 when Lord Török Bálint took it by force. Lord Török was at this time siding with the usurper King Habsburg Ferdinand, in this period of the lethal Dual Kingship of Hungary. When it happened, Lord Török took care of plundering the silver and gold jewelry of Héderváry’s widow. Later, in 1537 Ozora was plundered again by the men of Török Bálint.
The troops of the Pasha of Buda took Ozora from its castellan, Csakar Ferenc in 1543. The Ottomans restored it and placed a garrison in it, then it belonged to the Turks for 140 years. The Habsburgs took it back in 1687, after the retaking of Buda. The castle went to Palatine Esterházy Pál whose family had the building reshaped in the Baroque style in the 18th century. The castle became a prison in the 19th century, then it was turned into a granary. The rebuilding and archeological work started only in 1970. Now, you can take delight in a fully restored beautiful castle.
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Here are more pictures of Ozora: