Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars


Photo: Cristian Chirita

The Renesaince castle of Gyalu (Gilău, Julmarkt) is located in Transylvania, Romania. It is 17 kilometers from Kolozsvár (Cluj, Klausenburg) to the west. 

The first captain of Gyalu was mentioned in 1439. The castle belonged to the bishop of Várad and then to the bishop of Transylvania. It became the property of the Chamber of Transylvania in 1556. The Kendi family owned it at the beginning of the 16th century. It was where Prince Báthory Zsigmond had Kendi Ferenc and Bornemissza János executed for plotting with the Ottoman Turks in 1594. It was a bloody thing from Báthory as there was no trial. He wanted to prepare for his war against the Ottomans which ended with the defeat of Mezőkeresztes in 1596. You can read about this battle in my book:

Finally, Prince Báthory gave the castle back to the bishop of Transylvania. Nobody liked Prince Báthory Zsigmond, especially not the Székelys. He ruined his country. In April 1598, Zsigmond resigned as Prince of Transylvania in favor of the Holy Roman Emperor, Rudolf II (who was also the King of Hungary); reversed his decision in October 1598; and then resigned again in favor of Cardinal Báthory András, his cousin. Not much later, the Wallachian Voivode Vitez Mihail attacked Transylvania and seized the throne with the help of Emperor Rudolf for a short time.

Photo: Andrei Kokelburg

Gyalu – along with other settlements – was also destroyed by Voivode Vitez Mihail in 1599. Later, Michael, allied with the Emperor’s general, Basta, defeated the Hungarian army in the Battle of Goroszló in 1601. A few days later Basta, who sought to control Transylvania himself, ordered the assassination of Michael.

Photo: Andrei Kokelburg

Prince Báthory Zsigmond resigned and left Transylvania for good. As for Gyalu, he had given it to Bishop Naprágyi Demeter before he left. Naprágyi became an outcast in 1601 and the new owner of Gyalu became Kamuthi Farkas who managed to gain it from Báthory Gábor. Then, Prince Bocskai István, once the strong general of Prince Báthory Zsigmond took the castle of Gyalu in 1605. The heydays of Transylvania came only after the consolidation carried out by Bocskai and a few years later it became the Fairy Garden of Europe during the rule of Prince Bethlen Gábor.

Photo: Andrei Kokelburg

Prince Rákóczi György II was defeated and killed near Gyalu in the battle of Szászfenes against the Ottomans in 1660. Later it went to the Barcsay family. The next owner of Gyalu was Chief Comes Count Losonczi Bánffy Dénes of Doboka. Gyalu was the place where Bánffy György, Governor of Transylvania held his splendid wedding in 1702. During the War of Independence of Prince Rákóczi Ferenc II (1703-1711), the rebel Hungarian “kuruc” troops were besieging Gyalu castle but they could take it only after a long time. 

Gyalu castle

The second floor of the castle was pulled down in 1836, and there was a large fire in 1861 that destroyed the roof. After the fire, the moat was filled in and a park was built around the building. The Bánffy family was able to get the castle back after 1850. They carried out major reconstructions in 1911. Then, Barcsay Tamás wed Bánffy Katinka and it was how the Barcsay family could own Gyalu castle until 1948. The castle was reclaimed by the Barcsay family members but its return has been hindered since 2002.

You can read more about Prince Barcsay on my page:

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Many pictures are from the Castle Coalition page where you can learn more about Transylvanian castles:

Here are a few more pictures of Gyalu: