Coat of Arms of
Palatine Samuel Aba of Hungary,
Burgravate and Earldom of Abaújvár,
Arms of County of Abaúj

His Royal and Apostolic Majesty King Samuel Aba of Hungary (1038/1040 – 1044)

Abaujvar 10th century

There is a strong possibility that 13 century castles in Keczer, Somos and Abaújvár looked alike.


Abaujvár is the historical place and home to the Hungarian Second Royal Dynasty; the House of Aba. During the reign of King Samuel Aba , 1038 – 1044, the Aba family built Abaujvár castle (Aba’s New Castle) in northern Hungary. Initially the castle was an administrative seat for one of the royal lordships. Eventually Abaújvár (Castle) became a garrison in an effort to protect one of the Baltic-Balkan commerce routes. This specific road followed the banks of the river Hernád (Slovak: Hornád) and the river Tarca (Slovak: Torysa).

Prior, during, and after the reign of St. Stephen, the Aba family had substantial properties in the northern regions of the Hungarian realm. In fact, most of the area was an independent Dominion of the Aba family, a Kingdom, with its own royal prerogatives. At that time Hungary was made up of 14 such Kingdoms.

During the Mongol invasion of Hungary a large part of the territory was destroyed, but the castle of Abaújvár wasn’t occupied by the invaders. After the invasion the area was repopulated by German settlers.

After the senior line of the Árpád dynasty died out in 1301, the succession to the throne of the Kingdom of Hungary became contested by several foreign monarchs and other runners-up. Pope Boniface VIII’s champion was Charles Robert of Anjou, the eldest son of Charles II of Naples and Mary of Hungary. Over several years Charles, with help from the church, drove his foreign opponents out of the country and installed himself on the throne of Hungary. At that time Hungary was a confederation of small kingdoms, principalities and dukedoms. However, his rule remained nominal, and even so only in few parts of the Kingdom because several powerful magnates, local kings, dukes and princes still did not recognize him as the supreme king. They saw him for what he was.

The Battle of Rozgony

The Pope and the Roman Catholic bishops pushed the dominance strategy over Hungarian suzerainty to a boiling point. In the other words, the Battle of Rozgony was instigated on behalf of Charles Robert of Anjou, by the Church of Rome, and in reality it was a war with two objectives: To seize the throne of Hungary and to destroy the Eastern Orthodox Church within the Kingdom.

NOTE: After the 1054 Schism, the Roman Catholic Church declared all other Christian churches, including the Eastern Orthodox Church, as Pagans. During the medieval period Aba family were the loyal defenders of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

May 2021 – The archaeological site located in the Hungarian village of Abasar appears to be the burial ground of a Hungarian King. It is believed the remains found at the site belong to King Samuel Aba, who ruled Hungary from 1041 to 1044, and his wife.   

The Battle of Rozgony (15. June 1312)

In 1312, Charles Robert of Anjou – the Pope’s champion for the Hungarian throne, besieged Sáros Castle, (now part of Slovakia – Šariš Castle) owned by the Abas. After the Abas received additional reinforcement from Máté Csák (according to Chronicon Pictum almost Máté’s entire force as well as 1,700 mercenary spearmen), Charles Robert of Anjou retreat to the Szepes county (today the region of Spiš), whose Saxon inhabitants subsequently reinforced his troops. However, few months earlier Charles had Amadeus Aba – Lord of the Dominion of Aba and Palatine of Hungary assassinated (5. September 1311) by his own Sicilian mercenaries (Druget brothers), German colonists from Kassa, and the crusading knights of the Order of Saint John. After that, the armed confrontation was unavoidable. The bloody Battle of Rozgony (15 June 1312) was not a battle between the “legitimate King of Hungary” and some sort of insignificant rebels, but a battle between foreign occupation forces, including the Church of Rome, and the Hungarian defenders.

NOTE: The town of Rozgony (now Rozhanovce, Slovakia) is located 18 km (11 miles) north of Abaújvár, Hungary and 7 km (4.5 miles) northeast from Kassa (now Košice, Slovakia). Mounted soldiers would ride their horses 80-100 km (50-60 miles) in a day. Depending on the stride of the horse, at 16 to 27 km (10 to 17 miles) an hour. Abaújvár Investiture

Initially the Dominion of Abaúj also included the county of Sáros (Slovakian: Šariš) and the County of Heves. The “county arose” in the second half of the 13th century, after the Battle of Rozgony.

Duke Francis Rhédey of Transylvania
Lord of the Castle Fülek (Slovak: Fiľakovo)
(5. September 1619)

Emeric (Imre) Thököly – Lord of Késmárk,
Prince of Upper Hungary, Prince of Transylvania, (25. September 1657 – 13. September 1705)

In a tax register from 1427 the Aba County is mentioned as having 5187 peasant houses. Before the Battle of Mohács (29. August 1526), marking the beginning of a 160-year-long Ottoman occupation of Hungary, the Aba family, within the county, possessed 9 castles, 14 towns and 318 villages.

In the 16th-17th century many important historical events took place at least partly in Abaúj county, including the peasant revolt led by György Dózsa (1514), and battles between the Hungarians and the Ottomans. The southern part of the county fell under Ottoman rule, while the northern part remained part of the Kingdom of Hungary.

On 5 September 1619, the prince of Transylvania, Gabriel Bethlen and duke Francis Rhédey captured Kassa (Slovakian: Košice) from the Habsburg invaders. By the Peace of Nikolsburg in 1621, the Habsburgs restored the religious toleration agreement of 1606 and recognized Transylvanian rule over the seven Partium counties: Ugocsa, Bereg, Zemplen, Borsod, Szabolcs, Szatmar and Abaúj. The county of Abaúj again belonged to the Principality of Transylvania (1644-48).

Battles were also fought in the county in the early 18th century, against the Hapsburg invaders, led by Emeric (Imre) Thököly – Lord of Késmárk and the prince of Upper Hungary (see: Order of Vitéz), a nephew of earl Francis Rhédey – Lord of Máramaros and Prince of Transylvania. The Abaúj county was first merged with the neighboring, smaller County of Torna (Slovak: Turňa) county in 1785, but they were separated again in 1790. After the 1848-49 Hapsburg occupation, Abaúj and Torna were merged again, but were separated in 1859. They were finally merged in 1882. Before the merger Abaúj had an area of 2872,71 km² and a population of close to 170,000; Torna had an area of 618,04 km² and a population of 23,176.

The 19th and 20th century exodus of Jews from Poland, Ukraine, and Russia made up a significant portion of the new population. The 20th-century land reforms became also an incentive for displaced and poverty-stricken people from other parts of Felvidek (a northern part of the Hungary). On the one hand the population growth brought prosperity to the region; on the other hand the newcomers greatly contributed to the devastation of the historical appearance of Abaújvár. Within less than 100 years of continued construction of new residential homes, the local population had totally dismantled the entire castle and its fortification walls to use the stone as a raw material for building their houses, destroying one of Hungary’s most important historical sites. What was once a center of the Second Hungarian ethnic Royal House (the House of Aba) and the pride of the Hungarian statehood became nothing more than an unmarked cemetery, of which, even today, the majority of Hungarians are not aware.

Francis Rhédey – Lord of Máramaros and Prince of Transylvania

Coat of Arms of Burgravate and Earldom of Heves, Dominion of Aba, later County of Heves

Present day Coat of Arms of the
County of Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén

Ľubovniansky hrad – Stará Ľubovňa, Slovakia (from above)

Šarišský hrad – Prešov, Slovakia (from above)

Spis Castle, Slovakia

When we try to analyze the devastation of Abaújvár Castle, the most diplomatic explanation one can offer is that the 19th and 20th century war conditions and the lack of appropriate laws relating to the protection of historical sites in Hungary during the Habsburg rule had a great deal to do with what happened to Abaújvár.

In 1919, Abaúj-Torna had 364 villages, of which only 5 had a population larger than 2000. Of the 63 counties of the Kingdom, it was the 45th largest by area, 37th largest by population and 35th by population density (65/km² in 1910).

Between 1899 and 1913 many of people left the Kingdom of Hungary and emigrated to other countries; from Abaúj 44,258 people emigrated, 13,566 migrated back to Hungary; in total it had 30,692 émigrés, making it the 8th largest emigration source of all counties.

In 1918 (confirmed by the Treaty of Trianon 1920), the northern half of the Abaúj-Torna county (1551 km², including Kassa/Košice) became part of newly formed Czechoslovakia and continued to exist as an administrative unit till October 26, 1922. The southern half became part of modern Hungary as the county Abaúj-Torna, with its capital at Szikszó. The Hungarian part was divided into four districts.

End of Monarchy (please read …).

During World War II Czechoslovakia was split and on November 2, 1938, most of the Czechoslovak part of the county (1257 km² with a population of 126,050, including Kassa with an area of 93 km² and a population of 58,090) became part of Hungary under the First Vienna Award, and was added to the county Abaúj-Torna, with the capital Kassa (Slovak: Košice). On March 6, 1939, the Czechoslovak-Hungarian Border Committee annexed five more villages to Hungary at the request of the residents. After World War II, on January 20, 1945, the pre-war border was restored, with 52% of the original territory remaining in Hungary under the name of Abaúj county, with Szikszó as its capital.

During the administrative reform of 1950 in Hungary, Abaúj was merged with the remaining parts of neighbouring counties Borsod-Gömör and Zemplén to form the present Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén county.

Today Abaújvár remains the seat of the Aba family with an almost 4 hectares (10 acres) large garden and several old stone houses in the center of the village directly adjacent to the castle grounds. Presently the property is undergoing renovations and reconstruction. The new facility will also have a traditional Orthodox Chapel and a Research Center to study the history of the pre-Habsburg Hungary and Transylvania and it will store books and documents relating to the same.

List of Aba family (Genus Aba) branches and their Lordships: Athinai, Báthory de Gagy, Bertóthy, Budaméry, Csirke, Csobánka, Frichi, Gagyi, Hedry, Keczer, Kompolthi, Laczkffy de Nádasd, Lapispataky, Rhédey, Sirokay, Solymossy, Somosy de Somos, Vendéghy and Vitéz.

Please enjoy our introduction to several castles build by Aba Dynasty during middle ages in the Kingdom of Hungary. Presently some of these Hungarian historical sides are located in Upper Hungary (now Slovakia), Galicia and Lodomeria (now Ukraine), Hungary Proper and Transylvania.

Activity: King Baldwin IV of Jerusalem Leprosy Assistance & Relief Program

See also:

Special thanks to ChelloPhoto, Sudio 727, HolyCity Drones, Hike the World, Filip Jurovaty, Derek Fiechter and others.