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A brief history of Füzér Castle

Füzér, lying in an astounding natural setting, is one of the few seigneurial castles in Hungary which in all probability was already standing prior to the Mongol invasion of 1241-42. Its name was first mentioned in a charter of 1264, but another document dating from 1270 states that the owner of the castle in the first half of the 13th century was “Blind” Andronicus of the Kompolt clan, from whom King Andrew II bought the castle. Another piece of evidence suggesting that the castle was built before the Mongol invasion is that the earliest coin found there was a Friesach denar of the Archbishop of Salzburg, Eberhard II, which was struck between 1200 and 1246. According to the 1264 charter that first mentioned Füzér, King Béla IV had previously given Füzér to his daughter Anna of Halics but his son Prince Stephen took it from her by force. In 1270, having ascended the throne and become Stephen V, the new king bestowed Füzér Castle and the villages that belonged to it upon Count Mihály. 

In 1387 Lesták Ilsvai pawned the castle for 3,000 forints and then on February 2, 1389 King Sigismund gave it to the sons of Péter Perényi: Miklós, János and Imre.

After the coronation of John I in 1526, the then owner, another Péter Perényi, as the guardian of the Holy Crown, did not return the crown to Visegrád, where it was usually kept, but, in the words of the priest György Szerémi, “hurried to Füzér Castle and deposited the crown there in a place of safety.” The crown remained there for almost a year.

In 1529 John I’s men set fire to the stables beneath the castle, which suggests they were unable to take the castle itself. In 1533 Perényi decided to strengthen his castles at Füzér and Patak. According to contemporary sources, the work was entrusted to the Italian architect Alessandro Vedani.

Around 1645 a quarrel arose with the neighbouring castle in Szalánc over the ownership of some hills. The trouble came to a head when the wife of Zsigmond Forgách, the owner of Szalánc Castle, sent armed troops to Füzér. The soldiers reached the foot of the mountain on which Füzér Castle stood but in the end no blood was shed as the captain of the castle struck a last-minute peace deal with Forgách’s wife.

On June 22, 1670 the possessions of Füzér were seized as a result of the owner’s role in the Wesselényi conspiracy when the magnates attempted to oust Habsburg influence in Hungary. From 1675 complaints by the people of Füzér of harassment by the rebels multiplied. The imperial general Strasoldo, instead of trying to rid the area of rebels, deliberately damaged the castle that could be a potential source of trouble if it fell into rebel hands but otherwise held little significance. The castle lost its role at that time and has been in ruins ever since. The walls crumbled or were pillaged by locals for building materials.

After its destruction in 1676, the next time the castle was mentioned in a written source was in 1910 describing an endeavour to restore it. The architect Kálmán Lux proposed that the chapel be completely renovated and the gate tower be partly restored. The first preservation works took place between 1934 and 1936 with the support of the Károlyi family, who had owned the remains of the castle and its estate since 1686.

The first archaeological survey was made under the direction of Juan Cabello and István Feld in 1977, and excavations resumed in 1992. Planning permission for the full reconstruction of the Upper Castle of Füzér was granted in 2012.