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The bastion of Helena Zrínska

EASTERN Slovakia’s Zborov Castle, pictured here in a postcard from the 1920s, used to have two names. Apart from Zborov, it was also known as Makovica, or Poppyhead. It was hit by one disaster after another. In reality Makovica, as a guard castle, could not have expected anything else.

EASTERN Slovakia’s Zborov Castle, pictured here in a postcard from the 1920s, used to have two names. Apart from Zborov, it was also known as Makovica, or Poppyhead. It was hit by one disaster after another. In reality Makovica, as a guard castle, could not have expected anything else.

During the Ottoman invasion the castle was rebuilt to a truly vast defensive complex. But this did not stop it from being demolished to a large extent in 1684 by imperial army. The coup-de-grace was delivered in 1914 when, during battles between the Russian and Austro-Hungarian armies, it was completely destroyed.

One of the castle’s well-known residents was Helena Zrínska, the last member of a famous Croatian noble family. She was probably impressed by stubborn men, as she chose František I Rákóczi for her husband, and after his death married Imrich Tököly. Both were leaders of an anti-Habsburg revolt in Hungary. Helena, too, took an active part in the battles. First she defended Zborov and, when it fell, led the defence of another castle, Mukačevo. When it was conquered after three years by the imperial army in 1688, Mukačevo Castle was torn down and she was imprisoned in a Vienna monastery. Later, Tököly managed to exchange her for a captured imperial lieutenant-colonel. Then the couple left for exile in Turkey, where they both died.


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