Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars between 1372-1699

Sirok

Photo: Nazimek Michal
The castle of Sirok is located in the eastern part of the Mátra Mountain (Hungary), on a 296-meter-high mountain. Its history dates back to the Avar times before the 8th century AD. The Avar tribes had a fort erected on Castle Hill. At the end of their rule, Slav tribes took the area at the end of the 8th century who used the castle as well. When the Magyar tribes took these lands in the 9th century, the Borh-Bodon family of the Aba clan settled in this area. They were the ones who have entirely rebuilt the old castle. (Please, note that I use the Eastern name order for Hungarians where family names come first.)
Photo: Nazimek Michal
Here is a short video about the castle:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LgbZLM-gpR4


This castle was first mentioned only in 1320, when Demeter, the son of Borh-Bodon joined Csák  Máté, the mighty oligarch. However, his castle was soon occupied by the royal armies of King Károly Róbert, under the leadership of Voivode Dózsa of Transylvania and Drugeth Fülöp, chief Comes of Szepes (Spiš). In 1324, the king appointed Kompolthy Imre of the Aba clan as a castellan, who held this position even in 1339. Meanwhile, in 1331, the king donated the castle to a Czech knight called Cheny. Yet, Sirok castle became a royal estate again in 1337.

Photo: Nazimek Michal

The castle was repaired in 1372 by Domoszlai Miklós, Vice comes of Heves County, at his own expense, for about 2,000 Forints that was the amount for which King Louis (Lajos) the Great pledged it to him. In 1388, Tary László replaced Domoszlai. Tary paid the same amount to King Zsigmond who gave an order to the Chapter of Vác in 1390 to register the donation given to Lord Tary. After his death, Tary Lőrinc and Ruppert became the owners of Sirok. According to a charter dated February 8, 1465, György, the son of Tary Ruppert pledged Sirok and all of his domains to Palatine Gúthy Országh Mihály and to Nánai Kompolthy Miklós and Venczel in exchange for 24,000 gold Forints. However, the Judge of the Country, Pálóczy László reconsidered it and he decided to give Sirok castle rather to Pásztói István, László, and János, having seen the documents that were shown to him.


 
Tary György committed a crime: he blinded Lord Pásztói Péter. As a penalty, King Matthias donated Sirok castle and the estates of Tary to Gúthy Országh Mihály in 1472. After his death, his four sons entered into an inheritance contract with the Kompolthy family in 1522, on the basis of which, after the latter’s extinction, the castle and its estate passed to Országh László and then to Kristóf in 1523.

Sirok (by Pazirik Ltd)

Kristóf Országh modernized it in 1561 who built out the outer castle with its three Italian bastions. The outer castle was the so-called “hussar-castle”, designed for the mobile warfare of the border guard hussar units. He also added 100 well-supplied hussars to its defense.  Thus, Sirok has become the strongest borderland castle in the chain of forts near Eger. It was the heyday of the castle.

Photo: Nazimek Michal

With the death of Országh Kristóf, Emperor Maximilian received the castles of Sirok and Szécsény in 1569. Immediately, he pledged them to Török Ferenc, chief Comes of the county of Hunyad, his wife Országh Borbála, his son István and their daughter Eufrozina in exchange for 18,000 Forints. As it was, Lord Nyáry Pál inherited Sirok castle from them.

Photo: Nazimek Michal

The castle was in very poor condition in 1588 and it was badly supplied: in each castle, there were two captains, as it was the custom, this time they were Kótaji Benedek and Helmeczy János. On the news of the fall of Eger Castle in 1596, Kótaji and Helmeczy, together with a small number of guards, abandoned the castle.  The Turks led by Pasha Ali and Pasha Achmed took the fort soon after this without a fight.

Photo: Nazimek Michal

The Pashas’ main task was to organize the taxation of the newly conquered villages and to send raiding parties into the lands still controlled by Hungarians. The Turks pulled down the Christian church and used its stones to reinforce the walls of the castle.
When Doria János was laying siege on Eger castle in 1687, the garrison of Sirok castle joined the defenders of Eger castle so the fort remained without defenders. So Sirok was retaken without a fight.

Photo: Nazimek Michal

It soon has lost its strategic importance and got neglected. Marque Barki became its lord and he has made great efforts to have the castle rebuilt in 1694 and was supplied with Imperial guards.

Photo: Nazimek Michal

During the War of Independence of Prince Rákóczi Ferenc, the castle did not have a military role. The castle was destroyed in 1713 to prevent the rebellious Hungarians from using it in the future. Then, it had several owners, including Count Sztáray János, Baron Orczyné, Novotny, Németh, Vecsey, and the Károlyi families. 

Photo: Nazimek Michal

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Photo: Nazimek Michal
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