Statue of aristocrat religious freedom fighter unveiled in Kežmarok

Emeric Thököly, an earl who was exiled after a failed rebellion in the 17th century, was born at Kežmarok Castle.

A new bronze statue of the Kežmarok-born earl Emeric Thököly is unveiled in Kežmarok on March 28, 2022.A new bronze statue of the Kežmarok-born earl Emeric Thököly is unveiled in Kežmarok on March 28, 2022. (Source: Mesto Kežmarok/Facebook)

Emeric Thököly sits proudly on his horse outside Kežmarok Castle, eastern Slovakia. He won't be going anywhere, though.

A new bronze statue of the Kežmarok-born earl, made by Hungarian sculptor Lajos Györi and funded by Hungary, was officially unveiled on March 28.

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“As the leader of anti-Habsburg uprisings, he fought for freedom of religion,” Kežmarok Museum Director Erika Cintulová said, as quoted by the TASR newswire.

Historians characterise him as a man who managed to save the Lutheran Church in the most difficult times of its history, she added.

For instance, Protestants could build schools and articular churches following the initial success of the rebellions against the then ruling Habsburg monarchy, who were Catholic, in 1681.

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Two years later, Thököly was exiled to the Ottoman Empire, today’s Turkey, after one of his last rebellions against the Habsburg monarch Leopold I was crushed near Vienna. He died in the Turkish city of Izmit.

Born and buried in Kežmarok

His remains were moved to Kežmarok from Turkey in 1906 and today are buried in the New Evangelical Church in the Slovak town.

The former earl was born at Kežmarok Castle in 1657. His family owned the castle in the 16th and 17th centuries and rebuilt it into a luxurious aristocratic residence.

“Emeric and his father were contradictory personalities. There were constant disagreements between local people and the owners of the castle, but the castle thrived during their time,” Cintulová said.

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The story of the aristocratic family is told in a special display in one of the castle's towers.

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