Szécsény, the Franciscan Convent (Photo: Civertan)

Szécsény is in Northern Hungary and it was first mentioned in writing in 1219, as part of the property of the Kacsics Clan. Its owner used to be Bán (Duke) Simon who was guilty of murdering Queen Gertrud, the wife of King András. In 1229, King Béla IV took this land away from him and gave it to a man called Pósa. However, Farkas, a member of the Kacsics Clan regained the area by barter in 1274.

His son was called Voivode Tamás who began to use the name “Szécsényi” (= of Szécsény). We know that Szécsényi Tamás owned Szécsény in 1333. The next year, King Károly Róbert granted the same rights to Szécsény as it had been given to the burghers of Buda. Lord Tamás was allowed to build a wall around the town, too, including towers and bastions. The market town was prospering. Lord Szécsényi László was the next who build a castle according to a document from 1439. The County held its assembly in Szécsény in 1453.

The COA of Szécsény

Shortly after this, Lord Szécsényi László pledged the settlement to Guthi Országh Mihály and Lossonczy Albert. King Matthias Corvinus issued a document in 1461 where the new owners were accepted. The Diet ordered Lord Losonczi István to reinforce the castle with a palisade and a moat in 1546.

The Forgách palace in Szécsény (Photo: Takkk)

The Ottoman Turks attacked it in 1544 for the first time but they couldn’t take it, except taking away 45 people who were working in the fields. The second assault took place in 1550. Then, Losonczy was in Temesvár castle where the monarch sent him. After the Pasha of Buda, Hádim Ali had taken the castles of Drégely and Gyarmat in the summer of 1552, the enemy marched against Szécsény.

Hearing this, captain Árokházi Lőrinc set the town on fire and withdrew into the castle with his men. During the night, he became aware that all of his soldiers had fled, except eight of them. Seeing this, Árokházi also tried to flee but the Turks captured him. Here you can read more about the Turks’ famous campaign in 1552 when the defenders of Drégely castle gained eternal fame:

As the Turkish occupied Szécsény in 1552, its captain became the famous Bey Kara Hamza, and after this, the town became the center of a sanjak (an Ottoman district) for several decades. The “small war” was raging on the Borderland: Balassa János, the captain of the Mining Town District in Royal Hungary, tried to take Szécsény back in 1562 but it was in vain because he did not have enough cannons. On top of that, Balassa’s small army was ambushed by the Ottoman warriors of Fülek castle, causing him much damage. (Please, note that I use the Oriental name order for Hungarians where family names come first.)

Photo: Civertan

The first Turkish occupation ended in 1593 when the army of Pálffy Miklós and Christopher Tiefenbach liberated it. The Turks tried to destroy the fort, then set the town on fire and fled. We know from the letter of Thurzó György that the fire did not cause much destruction, though. After this, Lord Forgách Zsigmond became the landlord of the town and the captain of the fortress. Sadly, the town suffered much from the Imperial mercenaries at that time: on 23 March 1600, the town’s gate was forced open at night and the soldiers massacred the inhabitants, including the women and the children.

The Forgách palace (Photo: Civertan)

During the anti-Habsburg struggles, the captain of Szécsény, Géczi András had the German guards slaughtered and took the castle in 1604, and thus he had the gates opened before Rhédey Ferenc, the general of Prince Bocskai István of Transylvania. Yet, according to the Peace of Vienna, the castle had to return to the Habsburgs in 1606. However, its garrison happily opened the gates before the Transylvanian Prince Bethlen in 1620. The fortress was reinforced in 1622, 1625, 1635, 1640, and 1655.

Photo: Civertan

During the 30-year-war Szécsény was occupied for a short time by Prince Rákóczi György in 1644 but the Imperial troops gained it back and set it on fire. Koháry István was appointed as captain in 1647. Three years later, Lippay István became his vice-captain. Not much after this, Grand Vizier Küprülü Achmed set out to take the castle in 1663 and Captain Koháry István, who was also captain of Fülek, had the castle burned and withdrew its garrison to Fülek castle. The second Turkish occupation lasted for 20 years. Szécsény became practically deserted by the end of the nearly 150-year Turkish rule.

The Cossacks of Polish King János Sobieski laid a siege on Szécsény in 1683. At that time, it was Gyürky Pál its captain who was aided by Turk troops because Prince Thököly, his lord was allied with the Turks. When they could no longer keep the castle, Gyürky and the Turks abandoned the castle in exchange for going away in dignity.

Photo: Civertan

Then, the captain became Disznóssy Ferenc with his 300 Croatian soldiers. It was when a plague hit the town and the inhabitants fled so Disznóssy set the town on fire and had the castle destroyed before leaving it behind unguarded.  Szécsény had a significant role in the War of Independence of Prince Rákóczi Ferenc II in the 18th century. The famous Diet of Szécsény was held in 1705 where the Union with Transylvania was declared and Rákóczi was elected as a prince. It was also at Szécsény in 1709 where General Heister defeated the Hungarian rebel “kuruc” army.

The Declaration of Szécsény in 1705

Now you can see how the castle has been partly renovated with a lot of money. The way they have reconstructed one of the bastions from all this money is so awful that I could cry. You will see what I was talking about.

The renovated bastion in Szécsény (Photo: Rákász Mihály)


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Here are a few pictures of Szécsény castle: