Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

Revistye Castle is located in the Upper lands/Horná zem/Felvidék, in Slovakia. 
Revistyeváralja (Revištské Podzámčie) means “The village at Revistye Castle” and it is now only four kilometers from the city of Zsarnóca (Žarnovica).

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

The castle is on the 314-meter-high hill of the Madaras (Birdy, Vtáčnik) Mountains, not far from the country road and the Garam River. It is in a strategic spot where the river became narrow and it could defend the so-called Garam Gate from the enemy approaching from the South.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

On the other side of the valley, there is Saskő (Eagle-stone) Castle that was helping to defend the road which led to the Mining Towns, to the silverly Selmecbánya (Banská Štiavnica, Schemnitz), Újbánya (Nová Baňa, Königsberg), Bakabánya (Pukanec, Pukantz), and the golden Körmöcbánya (Kremnica,  Kremnitz). You can read more about the Mining Towns here:

The place was first mentioned in 1228 as “terra Ryvcha” and its castle later was also known as Ricse Castle. The castle was built in the second part of the 13th century by the cupbearer of the king, Bés of the Miskolc Clan, the ancestors of the Vezeklényi family. They could keep the castle only by swearing fealty to the great oligarch of the Upper Lands, Csák Máté. (Please, note that I use the Eastern name order for Hungarians where family names come first.) 

Here is a video about Revistye:

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

After the death of Csák Máté in 1321, the Vezeklényi family became loyal to the king and as a result of this, they could keep Revistye. However, the castle went to the king’s hand in 1331 and Queen Maria received it as her “needle money” in 1388. King Zsigmond gave Revistye to Sárói László, Comes of Temes County in 1391. He was the ancestor of the Lévai Cseh family who rose later into the circles of the wealthiest families. 

Photo: Laci Ruman

The Bohemian Jan Giskra’s men, the Hussite warriors who had been invited originally by the Queen, took it from the Lévai Cseh family around 1442 and they appointed Kollár Péter there as castellan. It was only King Matthias who drove them out in 1462 by making a treaty with Giskra. The Czech mercenary leader ceded all of his castles, including Revistye, in exchange for the castles of Lippa and Solymos in Arad County, plus paying 25,000 gold Ducats. His soldiers were employed by the king who created the core of his famous Black Army from them.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

The king gave the castle to his Queen Beatrix in 1477 but soon, the Dóczy family got Revistye in 1479. They were so rich that their wealth was contesting with the wealth of the Mining Towns. They established a 22-acre-big fish pond next to the castle. The Nagylúcsei family became the owner of the castle after 1490, they were the relatives of the Dóczy family. They owned Zólyomlipcse Castle (Slovenská Ľupča, Slowakisch Liptsch) and Breznóbánya city (Brezno, Bries/Briesen) at this time as well.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

There was a debate between the Nagylúcsai family and the miners of Breznóbánya over a mill. It led to a bitter hostility so Domján, László, Gergely of Nagylúcsai, and their relative, Dóczy Ferenc attacked Breznóbánya city with 600 riders, armed peasants, and infantrymen on 30 April 1517. The soldiers pillaged the church and killed two men of the priest, then burned the church on the people who had taken refuge there. It was a major crime. Young King Louis II punished the killers with a death sentence and confiscated their properties but his rule was so weak that his verdict was just mocked.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

László of Nagylúcsa was the owner of Revistye Castle at that time and he did not even let the king’s men enter his castle. There was another clash with the king in 1519 when István of Nagylúcsa was the captain of Revistye. He was threatening the king’s men who wanted to give two villages to the town of Selmecbánya. In spite of this, the king stopped the legal case against the family in 1523 which was just further proof of the utter weakness of the royal power three years before the Battle of Mohács.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

Later, Revistye returned to the Crown and it was controlled by Selmecbánya town but the Nagylúcsai-Dóczy family was able to get it back. The lords of the castle carried on their rivalry with the burghers of Selmecbánya during the 16th and 17th centuries.

The castle remained a third-class private castle because it was never updated to withstand a siege against more advanced cannons. The castle opened its gates before the Hajdú soldiers of Prince Bocskai István in 1605 and to the troops of Prince Bethlen Gábor between 1619 and 1623 as well. Prince Rákóczi György I of Transylvania was also warmly welcomed in 1644.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

Three years later, Turks were raiding and pillaging along the Garam Valley and they ambushed Revistye village, burning the settlement and sacking the castle. It was the year when the line of the Nagylúcsai family ceased to exist anymore and the castle was taken over by Selmecbánya city.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

The Garam Valley and Revistye Castle witnessed the campaign of General de Souches in 1664 who took the castle of Nyitra (Nitra, Neutra) back from the Ottomans and defeated the army of Pasha Kücsük Mehmed in the battles near Zsarnóca and Garamszentbenedek (Hronský Beňadik, Sankt Benedikt).

Jean-Louis Raduit de Souches (1608-1682)

The Lippai family were also its owners but the Crown bought the castle back from them in 1676. During the Habsburg-Hungarian wars that took place against the rebels of Prince Thököly Imre, the king placed strong German garrisons into Revistye and Saskő Castles to defend the Mining Towns in 1677. When Körmöcbánya surrendered to Thököly, these guards fled and the Hungarian rebels took Revistye in 1678.

Prince Thököly Imre of Upper Hungary and Transylvania (1657-1705)

Prince Thököly was trying to advance on with his rebel Kuruc troops, aided by French auxiliary forces but General Wrbna defeated him at Garamszentkereszt (Svätý Kríž nad Hronom, Heiligenkreuz an der Gran). The Habsburgs’ mercenaries had the Castle of Saskő exploded but for some reason, they kept the small Revistye Castle intact. It suffered only some damage because of a fire but it was restored soon.

The castle was still inhabited in the 18th century but it was struck by a lightning bolt in 1792 which partly destroyed it. Now you can see the one-story-high remains of its walls and four bastions. The renovation was very nicely proceeding in 2017 and the future of Revistye is quite promising.

Photo: Szöllősi Gábor

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Here are more pictures of Revistye castle, taken by Laci Ruman and Szöllősi Gábor: