Dédes castle

Dédes castle (Photo: Imre Lánczi)

Dédes is in Hungary, in the Bükk Mountains, at Dédestapolcsány. The place is situated near the village of Nagyvizynyó, on a 579-meter-high hill. Not far from the summit, there is a second peak, it used to be the “Kisvár” (Small Castle). The cliff of the Kisvár is 15 meters higher than the main castle, it used to be connected to it.

Dédes castle (Photo: Imre Lánczi)

It was built in the 13th century right after the Mongolian Invasion, during the fort-building wave of King Béla IV who, cleverly, wanted to prevent the next Mongolian Invasion by stone fortifications. The builder of the castle was Bán (Duke) Ernye of the Ákos Clan, a trusted man of the king. We know that Markus and Miklós, sons of Gergely, together with Jakab and Damiano, sons of Jakab asked for help from the Miskóc Clan, and they sold part of Dédeskő in 1247. (Dédeskő was the hill of the castle, and the place is not far from the large Hungarian town Miskolc.) The next mention of the castle is from 1254.

The Kisvár Photo: IJoe

István, son of Ernye (later Palatine of Hungary), after the death of King Endre III, was supporting the idea of electing the king by the free will of noblemen. Clearly, he did not support the new king, Károly Róbert. The sons of Ernye suffered a defeat from Károly Róbert in 1317 in the Battle of Debrecen. After the fight, they fled to Dédes castle. However, the king’s army besieged it, and it was taken by the troops of Debreceni Dózsa. The rebels were captured and executed. Their properties were taken away, too.

King Károly Róbert built a new castle there in 1325. King Károly Róbert rebuilt the castle in 1325 and assigned his castellan to it. We know, that Queen Borbála pledged the castle to Rozgonyi István in 1431. (Please, note that after the 13th century, I use the Oriental name order for Hungarians where family names come first.) Nevertheless, King Albert took Dédes back in 1439 and gave it to the Palóczy family. They owned it until 1526 because Palóczy Antal, the last male family member died in the Battle of Mohács. The castle became the property of King Szapolyai János.

The Battle of Mohács 1526 (painted in 1555 by Johann Schreire)

Then, the Dobó and the Perényi families debated about the ownership of Dédes castle, and Szapolyai gave it finally to Perényi Péter. Read more about this interesting figure of Hungarian history because Perényi Péter, the wealthiest lord of Hungary was an alternative solution between Habsburg Ferdinand and King Szapolyai during the bloody Dual Kingship of Hungary that tore the kingdom in two.

Perényi Péter

The village of Dédes and the market town of Sajószentpéter both belonged to the castle, just like the villages of Tardona, Nagyvisnyó, Tapolcsány, Mályinka, Szilvásvárad, and Rátótföldje. Perényi Gábor, the cruel son of Perényi Péter died without a heir so these places became the property of Erdőhegyi Boldizsár. As for Perényi Gábor, he allegedly had his wife and younger brother Ferenc poisoned. 

Photo: IJoe

1-2 April 1567, the fall of Dédes castle

War broke out again in 1565 between the new Habsburg ruler, Emperor Maximilian, and King Szapolyai János Zsigmond who ruled Transylvania or Eastern Hungary. General Lazarus Schwendi of King Maximilian was more successful and took Tokaj castle from Németi Ferenc. The general also took Szerencs, Szatmár, and Nagybánya castles. However, Sultan Suleiman set out and launched his seventh, last campaign to Hungary in 1566. Suleiman received King János Zsigmond on the field of Zimony. He reinforced his rule and gave him the task of occupying Upper Hungary. Then, the Sultan went on into the Trans-Danubian Region and targeted Szigetvár castle…

King János Zsigmond before Sultan Suleiman in 1566

We know how Suleiman died at Szigetvár castle but the war was going on after his death during the autumn and winter of 1566-67 in the northeastern part of Hungary. General Schwendi proved to be a better soldier and having taken Putnok and Szendrő, he took Szádvár castle in January as well. Then, he besieged Munkács castle, perhaps he thought himself a bird.

Munkács castle

In the meantime, János Zsigmond was besieging Kővár castle. Soon, he received “friendly” Ottoman help: Pasha Hasszán of Temesvár set out in the spring of 1567 against Borsod and Heves counties. He concentrated his forces, about 5,000 men at Jászberény. They went around Eger castle and the Bükk Mountains and made camp at Salyóvámos. From there, he sent out his riders who were raiding, sacking, and burning the villages everywhere in Borsod County. It was how he arrived at the castle of Dédes (Dédestapolcsány) which is located on the summit of a 600-high hill. He attacked the castle at once because it belonged to the Perényi family who had been on the Habsburgs’ side. The Turks bombarded the castle from two directions. 

Source: Soós Elemér

The defenders were led by Castelan Kávássy László (or according to other sources, the defenders were led by Bárius István when Kávássy had lost his life in the fight) and after 15 days of hard struggle, they saw they had not much chance to defend the fort. Yet, Bárius (Báry) István decided they would not cede the castle to the Turks just like that. Before fleeing through a secret tunnel, the soldiers had placed a huge amount of gunpowder in the tower. It exploded when the Ottoman warriors broke into the castle and allegedly killed more than 400 of them.

Dédes in 1913 (Picture: by Szöllösi Gábor www.varlexikon.hu)

Pasha Hasszán got so angry that he had the remaining parts of the castle pulled down: you can see the remains now as he left them. Behind the destruction of the castle, there were strategic reasons, too. After this, the pasha pillaged and burned the area around Torna, Regéc, Kassa, and Eger castles, taking Putnok, Monok, and Felsővadász. The defenders of the small castle of Felsővadász fought valiantly but the Turks set the roof of their fort on fire.

They sallied out from the top of the hill: they were just a handful of warriors but they all fell like the heroes of Szigetvár or Drégely castles before. Only two of them could escape. Let us commemorate those who fell there, even though we might never know their names. Here is more about Felsővadász:


The Memorial Plaque at the ruin of Dédes, placed there in 1967 (Photo: Photo: IJoe)

Pasha Hasszán left for home with 12,000 Hungarian slaves. Barius and his mates went to Eger castle where Bárius became the vice-captain of Ungnád Dávid between 1569 and 1573, his death. Lord Perényi tried to make Bárius responsible for the surrender of Dédes castle but Bárius explained himself, saying that he took over the command only out of need, and he never swore to fight to the end. The judges accepted this, and he was let go.

Dédes castle (Photo: Imre Lánczi)

Now, we can see only the marks of the minimal restoration done in the 1960s. The ruins are extremely neglected, although the Office of Cultural Heritage managed to support the walls with a few timbers in 2008, adding a few fences to protect the visitors from falling. Now, the ruins are waiting for total destruction. Let us note that these were the fights that saved our nation from extinction. Not to mention the rest of Europe.

Dédes castle (Photo: Imre Lánczi)

Source: Szibler Gábor and the Hungarian Wikipedia

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Here are a few more pictures of Dédes castle: