Siklós is located in the southern part of Hungary, the fort was first mentioned in 1294. The castle had a very active medieval history. Siklós castle has an inner tower with an irregular floor plan, consisting of an outer and an inner castle, it was built on a low hill. What makes it unique is that the castle has not undergone many changes in its medieval history.
During the Magyar tribes’ conquest of Hungary, this region became the home of the famous Khan family of the Botond tribe. The name of the settlement first appears in a charter of 1191 in the form of “villa Suklos”, when Buchk, the son of Siklósi Simon and Jul (Gyula) were dividing the domains between each other. These estates were Siklós, Ostró, Kemes, and Szaporcza, and the business was done before the Chapter of Pécs. The foundations of the Siklós castle were laid by a member of this family after the Mongolian Tartar invasion of 1241-42.
The castle is first mentioned in the charter issued by the Chapter of Pécs in 1294 to the sons of Siklósi Miklós. (Note, I use the Eastern name order for Hungarians where family names come first.) The place was called “Castrum Soklos” when it belonged to Comes Siklósi Gyula, the lord of Baranya and Tolna counties, whose castellan was Comes András, son of Toppord Mihály in 1297.
The historical role of the castle began after the end of the Árpád House, at the time of the royal election. At that time the owner of the castle was Siklósi Péter, a follower of King Károly Róbert. However, Németújvári János, the son of Henrik of Héder rebelled against the king and he wanted to occupy Siklós with a siege. Yet, his plan failed because Beremendi István from the Buchk branch of the Kán clan, related to the Siklós family, successfully defended it. Unfortunately, after the siege, Beremendi could not account for the gold and silver objects entrusted to him, estimated at about 1,000 marks. In the lawsuit initiated for this purpose, in 1326, Sándor, the Judge of the Country, ordered the parties to a decisive duel. The parties were allowed to hire a duelist. Our diplomas do not mention who became the winner, but we know that the Beremendi family became impoverished, from which it can be concluded that Siklósi Péter won the lawsuit.
In the second half of the 14th century, after the death of King Louis the Great, some of the lords did not recognize the king’s daughter, Mary’s rule, a rebellion broke out in the lands beyond the Dráva River. It was led by Bishop Pál of Zágráb and by Bán (Duke) Horváti János of Macsó. Simontornyai István was also among the leaders, they wanted to get the throne for Kis (Little) Károly of Durazzo. To prevent this, on behalf of Palatine Garai Miklós, with the consent of Queen Mary and Elizabeth, on February 7, 1386, Lord Forgách Balázs committed a murderous assassination attempt on Kis Károly in Buda Castle who died in his wounds not much later.
To put down the rebellion, Garai, Mary, and Elizabeth traveled to the South later this year but were captured at the village of Gara by Lord Horváti. Horváti had Garai beheaded, strangled Elizabeth, and locked Mary in her castle. Siklósi Miklós also joined the rebels, for which Sigismund, who had meanwhile been crowned king, took away the castle of Siklós and its accessories from the disloyal lord by a decree dated 13 April 1387 in Buda. Sigismund gave it János and lászló, the sons of Pásztói Kakas but the sons of Pásztói Domokos and István (the kids were László and János) also received a part. They all belonged to the Rátót Clan.
After seven years, Siklós Castle and its accessories once again fell into the hands of the Garai family. They bought it back from the members of the Kakas family members. The rest of the domains were obtained by the Garai family by a barter they made with the last members of the Siklós family, namely with the Augustinian monk Miklós, the son of Pál. The good monk was appointed as the bishop of Osseró, in exchange for the business.
Then, the lords dissatisfied with Sigismund captured the king returning from Bohemia, on his way to Buda on April 28, 1401. They first locked him in the castle of Siklós for five months. From there, he was taken to the Castle of Pápa that also belonged to the Garai family. After the nobles could not agree on the identity of the new king, Garai Miklós, with the help of his followers, managed to reconcile the lords with Sigismund, who promised to return the castles in foreign hands to their owners, obey Hungarian laws and not punish those who rebelled against him. Sigismund, who was released from captivity, appointed Garai Miklós as a palatine, and from that time Siklós was also called “Civitas Palatinalis”, the city of the palatine, suggesting that his master was the palatine of the country.
The Garai family was discontinued, Garai Jób died in 1482, so together with the manor of the Siklós castle became the property of the crown, and as such, in April of this year, it was donated to King Matthias’ son, Corvin János. Corvin died in 1504 and his son Kristóf died in 1505, so Siklós fell into the hands of King Ulászló II, who donated it to Corvin’s widow, Beatrix Frangepán, and then to her second husband, George von Brandenburg, from whom Lord Újlaki Ferenc bought it.
According to Serbian sources, between 1508 and 1515, the landlord was Stefan Stilanovics. In 1515, King Ulászló donated the castle and his estate to Palatine Perényi Imre, who took great care to repair and expand it. He rebuilt the castle in the Renaissance style. He further enhanced the castle’s defensive capacity by filling in the wall gorges, building shield-shaped earth defenses, and erecting polygonal Italian-style bastions built in front of ramparts and castle walls. This is when the pentagonal bastion in front of the chapel and the Perényi-embossed bastion in front of the southern corner of the outer wall were completed.
The Palatine’s wife was Lady Kanizsai Dorottya who kept the fort after her husband’s death in 1519. This lady became renowned for bravely burying the dead of the Battle of Mohács in 1526. Perényi Ferenc also died in that battle. You can read about the Perényi Clan here:
His brother, Péter was in charge of guarding the Hungarian Holy Crown. Péter later became Chief Comes of Temesvár (Timisoara), then Voivode of Transylvania. However, Péter decided to cede the crown to Szapolyai János who was crowned with it on 10 November 1526. Eventually, shortly after this Perényi Péter gave the crown to the Habsburg usurper, Ferdinand, who was also crowned with it in 1527. After his coronation, Perényi had the Holy Crown brought to the castle of Siklós. After Szapolyai János had no choice but to side with the Turks in 1529, Perényi wanted to change sides and tried to take Ferdinand’s side. He wanted to go to Sárospatak Castle with the crown and badges. However, Bishop Szerecsen János, standing on the side of Szapolyai, learned of his betrayal and his plan. He captured Perényi along with his men at Kajdacs in Tolna County, locked him and his family in the castle of Pozsega, and transported the crown to the camp of the Turkish Sultan, who handed the crown over to Szapolyai.
Szapolyai was angry with Perényi but Suleiman ordered him to have mercy on Perényi. Thus, Perényi went over to King Szapolyai but after Szapolyai’s death in 1540, he began to support King Ferdinand. He was not lucky with him, King Ferdinand put him under arrest in 1542 for treason and kept him there for five years when he had to be released because of the Hungarian lords’ pressure. He died in 1548. In the absence of Perényi, Siklós Castle was entrusted to a castellan called Vas Mihály and his deputy, Nagy Zsigmond.
Here is a short video about the castle:
The Turkish peril was hanging over the castle and its hardest siege happened in 1543.
The defenders yielded the unbalanced fight as they ran out of gunpowder and were offered safe conduct. The city fell after 8 days of siege and the castle after three days. When the surviving defenders were leaving the castle, the besiegers violated their word and attacked the departed and killed most of them, including Castellan Vas Mihály.
The Christian burghers were slowly pushed out of the city. A mosque was built in the city and the Franciscan church was turned into a Muslim praying-house, too. Evilja Chelebi, the famous Turkish traveler listed 7 mosques in the city in the 17th century.
The Turks used the castle and the city as a small regional and logistical center. They stored there a large amount of food and gunpowder. One of them can be seen today, nicely restored. The Ottomans built out the sewer system and they built a bath, too.
The Turks kept a strong guard in the castle, so its recapture became possible only after the liberation of Buda Castle. At that time, only 300 Turks were guarding it. As a result of an eight-day siege, an army led by Count Lajos of Baden took it back on October 28, 1686. Then, the Count entrusted the defense of the castle to Colonel Veszely.
On December 1, 1698, Emperor Leopold I donated the castle and its lands to the Imperial General Caprara Aeneas of Italian descent, who demolished the ruined parts and began to build the castle that can still be seen today. He also vaulted the barbican drawbridge into a permanent gate and bridge. After his death in 1701, the works were completed by the new owners, Count Batthyány Ádám and his son Prince Lajos. During the War of Independence of Prince Rákóczi Ferenc in 1705, General Bottyán occupied the castle and held it in his hands for a year.
A decade after the end of the War of Independence, the heirs of General Caprara sold the estate of Siklós in 1728 to Strattmann Eleonóra, the widow of Batthyány Ádám for 96,200 gold Forints.
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Here are many pictures of Siklós castle: