Déva castle can be found in Romania. However, this was a fortress that was considered one of the key gates of the Transylvanian Principality in the 17th century. Enjoy a video about it:
The castle sits on the top of a 250-meter-high cliff, on the left bank of the River Maros. Déva was rebuilt after the Mongolian invasion and first appeared in King Béla IV’s document in 1264.
Kán László, Voivode of Transylvania, who ruled de facto independently Transylvania after the death of King András III of Hungary (1290–1301) and who was also Count of the Székelys, was reluctant to recognize the rule of King Charles I of Hungary (Charles Robert of Anjou / Károly Róbert) in 1306. But in the summer of 1307, Kán captured King Otto of Hungary, the rival of King Charles I, and had him imprisoned in the fortress of Déva, which was Kán’s main castle. He also confiscated the royal crown of Hungary (the Crown of Saint Stephen) and kept it in the fortress of Déva until 1310 when he gave it to King Charles, finally recognizing him as King of Hungary.
Its most famous holder had been Lord Hunyadi János, King Matthias’ father. The Hunyadi family held it until 1504. You can read more about the Hunyadi Clan here:
Lord Perényi Péter, the third wealthiest baron of the Dual Kingship got it after 1526 but King Szapolyai János took hold of it 3 years later. He gifted it to his queen Isabella in 1539. (Note, I am intentionally using the Oriental name order for Hungarian names.) Lord Török János defeated the Turkish Pasha Kászim in 1550 near Déva.
The Legend of Déva: the Ballad of Clement Mason
The story is based on a Hungarian folk ballad, it can be traced back to the 16th century. In a nutshell, here is the story:
Kelemen, and 12 other bricklayers, are trying to build the castle of Déva. Every time they finish, it collapses. Believing themselves to be at the mercy of an old curse, they make an agreement; whoever’s wife first appears in the construction area of the castle, will have their throat cut, the corpse burned, and have her ashes mixed with the whitewash for the building. It is Kelemen’s wife that makes a visit first, against the advice of her husband. The bricklayers murder her and build her into the walls of the castle. The walls do not collapse this time, and the masons get their payment. Kelemen goes home, to see his son tell him what he did. His son decides to visits the castle. Arriving at the spot where his mother died, he dies from his grief.
Déva in the Transylvanian Principality
King Habsburg Ferdinand got the castle in 1550 for 5 years but Queen Isabella regained it soon. The first Unitarian bishop of Transylvania, Dávid Ferenc, was imprisoned and died here in 1579. Queen Isabella imprisoned the hero of Eger, Captain Dobó István, in the castle. It was also this castle where the infamous General Giorgio Basta wanted to execute all high aristocrats of Transylvania in 1603. Both Prince Bocskai István and Prince Bethlen Gábor were its owners; they used it as their living place. Déva was also the dwelling place of Lady Széchy Mária, the “Venus of Murány Castle”, between 1627 and 1640.
It was Prince Bethlen who began the renovation of the castle in Renaissance style. However, after the unsuccessful Polish adventure of Prince Rákóczi György II, the Ottoman Grand Vizier took the castle in 1657. He gave it to Prince Apafi who used the castle as a prison. In our days, Déva is also home to a sizeable Hungarian community and a shrine to the Unitarian Dávid Ferenc, with a large pilgrimage to his grave each October. The town is also is famous for its orphanage which is run by the Hungarian Franciscan monk Father Böjte Csaba.
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