Valpó Castle (Valpovo, Walpach) is in a town in Slavonia, Croatia. It is close to the Dráva river in the region of Slavonia, 25 km northwest of Eszék (Osijek), 30 km to the modern border of Hungary and it is just 50 km from Pécs. Its name derives from the Old German word „Walpoto”. As the word stands for “caretaker of a land”, it gives us the suggestion that the area may have been inhabited (or rather re-inhabited) after the Mongolian invasion of 1241-42.
The town was first mentioned in 1332 as „Wolko, „Voyha“, and „Wolpo“. The settlement had a parish church at that time, their priest was called Pál who paid 30 silver denarius as a tax, that was a considerable sum.
Valpó belonged to the Solyági family as it can be guessed from a document of King Zsigmond of Hungary, in 1396. Later, it was given by King Zsigmond of Luxembourg to Maróti János in 1427 who later became the Ban (Duke) of Macsó. It was him who had started to build the castle and he more or less got ready with the construction by 1431. (Please, note that I use the Oriental name order for Hungarians where family names come first.)
The castle itself was first mentioned in 1438. Maróti’s son, László, built the Saint László chapel which became the burial place of the family. Valpó remained their property until 1476. The town of the castle received privileges from King Albert and was allowed to hold markets. King Matthias Corvinus gifted Valpó to his cousins, Geréb Mátyás and Péter in 1481. In the 16th century, Perényi Péter gained control over Valpó (1512) by sending his men there as reinforcement against the Turks, although the castle was not very important strategically. However, it was on the way to Siklós Castle and had to be taken by the Ottomans. You can read more about Perényi Péter here:
Valpó castle was captured during the great campaign of the Ottoman Empire in 1543. Its first siege took place during the spring by the Bey Murad of Pozsega but it was unsuccessful. However, the Begler Bey of Rumelia arrived a month later and he was able to take it.
Let us read more about the first siege in 1543:
Perényi`s castellan was Árky Mihály (or Mihály Vas) and the siege began when Miklós Zrínyi Miklós aka Nikola Zrinski fought back the attack against Kanizsa Castle. About 500 Hungarian soldiers hurried to Valpó from Siklós and Pécs to reinforce it, they were taken to the castle by boats across the Dráva River. In the meantime, Murad had a bridge built and took his cannons closer to Valpó When he realized the coming of the reinforcement, he sent 300 picked Ottoman warriors against them, from the soldiers of Kapudji-Pasha Mehmed and Agha Keivan of Eszék (Osiek). According to Turkish sources, they slaughtered the reinforcement or pushed them into the river, sending lots of cut-off noses, and ears to the Sultan. They sent a captured famous warrior called Fartads there, too.
Yet, according to the latest research, Murad couldn`t take Valpó and he was just covering himself with a fake report. We know that the Turks sent troops against Valpó a month later so this first siege must have been a failure.
Here comes the story of the second siege in 1543:
The next time, the Hungarians had one month to get prepared and Váraljai Szaniszló called together his men at Pécs Castle. He sent a message to the Chief Comes of Tolna County, Werbőczy Imre, to come to his help and also asked for the aid of the Chief Captain of the Trans-Danubian Region, Nádasdy Tamás.
Sultan Suleiman crossed the Száva River on 12 June 1543 and intruded into the lands of the Kingdom of Hungary. He sent Begler Bey Ahmed of Rumelia against Valpó, Pécs, and Siklós castles. Ahmed had to build a boat bridge on the Dráva River to get there. The Rumelians crossed the river on 22 June. Rumelian means that Ahmed had brought the soldiers from the Bosnian and Serbian Elayets. While he was dealing with Valpó Castle, the Sultan was staying at Nándorfehérvár (Belgrad).
The fresh and seasoned troops of Ahmed surrounded Valpó and its bombardment has begun. He had enough men to launch several assaults against the walls but the defenders were fighting them back. In addition to the reinforcement from Siklós Castle, there were many Croatian peasants in the fort. They suffered great losses but the castle remained theirs. Although the assaults were unsuccessful the castle received 3.137 cannonballs and the walls either fell down every side or got seriously damaged. The time has come when Ahmed ordered an overall assault but it was repelled.
Despite the bravery of the defenders, the burghers of the town got so much frightened that they captured the Castellan and surrendered the fort for mercy to the Rumelian Begler Bey on 23 June. According to other sources, it was only on 7 July. Let us remark, Siklós Castle fell on 10 July, fighting against the overwhelming enemy for full ten days. You can read about Siklós here:
The Castellan was promised to go away with his men undisturbed but the Ottomans broke their word and they hid Akindji troops who slaughtered the warriors upon leaving the fort. Captain Váraljai fled from Pécs Castle but the Ottomans just marched through its city without taking the time to besiege the fort. Then, Suleiman marched on along the Dráva River and eventually, he took Esztergom and Székesfehérvár castles.
However, there is a legend that was still alive in 1938 in Valpó, it contains elements from both sieges. We know that the Turks had shot altogether 3,173 great stone cannonballs at the castle and killed half of the defenders with this bombardment. The rest of the warriors got either injured, sick or exhausted. Then, the enemy promised money and free leave but Captain Árky didn’t believe them. Soon, his own men captured him and they began to negotiate with the enemy, finally yielding the castle to them. We don’t know for sure whether Bey Murat executed or pardoned Árky but some say he was publicly beheaded after the Bey’s ceremonial dinner.
According to the legend, Bey Murat and Pasha Achmed were sitting in their tent and discussing how they could finally take the castle after such a long siege. There was a warrior in the castle called Miklós who was in love with Katalin, the beautiful daughter of the castle’s old captain. There was an envoy of the Austrian Emperor in the castle, too. He was the jealous Antonio who wanted to take revenge on the lovers because they had gotten married before the inevitable end of the siege. So Antonio sneaked out to the Turks and betrayed the castle, telling them that the western walls were the weakest. Having occupied the castle, the Turks had the traitor Antonio impaled. As for Miklós, he was killed in the fight but Katalin was captured and she died a terrible death: she was buried alive upside-down in the castle. Her ghost appeared to a sick soldier in the 19th century at night and begged him to receive a proper burial. The sick soldier promised it, and they began to seek the dead body. Miraculously, the skeleton of Katalin was found and properly buried. In exchange for his help, the soldier got healed.
Valpó was initially a so-called “kaza” center in Sanjak of Pojega till 1601 except for a short time when General Pálffy Miklós managed to retake it in 1599. Being a “kaza” town meant that the settlement was directly under the administration of the sultan and enjoyed certain privileges. It was later in the Sanjak center in Kanije Eyalet till the Austrian conquest in 1687. A Sanjak was an Ottoman administration area, it roughly was as big as the former Hungarian county of that region.
You can find Valpó on Google My Maps here:
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Here are a few more pictures of Valpó: