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History

The area around today's Božjakovina was first mentioned in documents in 1209 as "St Martin's land" (terra Sancti Martini), when King Andrew II of Hungary-Croatia removed the estate from the jurisdiction of the County Prefect of Zagreb and granted it first to County Prefect Kračun of Varaždin, and then in the same year to the religious order of the Knights Templars who had it for a full century. The Templars built a monastery on their land, mentioned in 1311 as the "house of St Martin of the Army of the Temple" (domus Sancti Martini miliciae Templi). Today we do not know its precise location. It was probably either next to St Martin's church in Prozorje (north of Dugo Selo) or in Božjakovina itself, on the site of a fortress that was built later and of which there is now no trace in the grounds of the manor house. When the Templars were abolished in 1312, the Hospitallers inherited Božjakovina and are mentioned as the feudal owners of St Martin's in 1320. It was at this time, in 1367, that the name Božjako (Bosiako) was first mentioned in documents. In the second half of the fifteenth century King Matthias Corvinus, and later also the Priors of Vrana (the heads of the Hospitallers), mortgaged certain parts of the estate. From 1471 to 1489 the Bans of Crotia and Slavonia Blaž Podmanicky, Ladislav of Egervar and Matija Gereb held Božjakovina. The last Hospitaller landlord was Petar Berislavić, Prior of Vrana and Ban of Croatia, in 1517. After his death in 1520 the Hospitaller period of Božjakovina ended.
After the death of Ban Berislavić, Ivan Tahy was appointed governor not only of Božjakovina but also of the other possessions of the Vrana Priorate. This began a period in which owners succeeded one another (Ivan Tahy, Ban Ivan Karlović Krbavski, Nikola Zrinski Sigetski, Franjo Tahy, Juraj Janković) until 1597, when the estate went to Count Juraj Zrinski and remained in the Zrinski family until1670. We have written more about the renowned Croatian Zrinski family in the text about Vrbovec Manor. The following Zrinskis owned Božjakovina: Juraj IV (1549-1603), Nikola VI (d. 1625), who was inherited by his second wife Elizabeth nee Countess Szechy (d. 1646), and Petar IV Zrinski (1621- 1671). When Petar IV Zrinski was arrested in Vienna in 1670 and accused of high treason, Ivan Jakob Teuffenbach, a captain of the Military Frontier from Ivanić Grad, attacked and looted Božjakovina. Next year Božjakovina came under the administration of the Court Treasury.
Despite opposition from the Court Treasury, in 1685 Emperor Leopold I sold Božjakovina to Count Ivan IV Drašković (d. 1692) for 18,733 Rhine forints, which was the full estimated value of the estate. Božjakovina remained in the Drašković family for 197 years. After the death of Ivan IV it was inherited first by his wife Marija Magdalena nee Countess Nadasdy, and then by their son Ivan V. In 1733 Božjakovina was inherited by Ivan V's second wife Katarina nee Countess Brandis, and after her death in 1744 it went to their second son Count Josip Kazimir Drašković. When the family lands were divided in 1766 after the death of Josip Kazimir, Božjakovina was inherited by his oldest son Ivan VIII, and then by his younger son Juraj IV(V) who left it to his sons Ivan Nepomuk and Teodor I. Ivan Nepomuk died in 1856, after his brother Teodor 1, whose son Teodor II inherited Božjakovina. In about 1882 Teodor II sold two thirds of the Božjakovina estate to the attorney Ferdo Šaj, and kept one third that included the house and land in nearby Dugo Selo. In the late nineteenth century Božjakovina encountered increasing economic and financial difficulties and in 1896 Ferdo Šaj sold it to the Croatian-Slavonian-Dalmatian Land Government in Zagreb. The government planned to arrange a model educational farm in Božjakovina that would serve to advance the economy of Croatia and its peasants. Dr Ivo de Mallin, counselor and head of the National Economy Department in the Land Government, made the programme for the Božjakovina Husbandry Estate that covered an area of about 1,500 ha in1896. In the following three decades the area decreased as some farms were lopped off, and by 1925 the area of the Božjakovina Husbandry Estate was reduced to about 642 ha. In the inter-war period the estate included several schools, like the Peasant Husbandry School for Adults, Husbandry School for Village Housewives, Middle Gardening School (the first of the kind in Croatia, founded in 1932 thanks to Ciril Jeglič) and others. Pupils of the Agricultural School in Križevci and students of the Faculty of Agronomy in Zagreb came to Božjakovina for practical training.
The Božjakovina estate, as we have seen, went through the hands of many owners and masters during the centuries. It was well populated in the Middle Ages but its medieval development was interrupted by Turkish incursions that began in the 1540s. After the fall of Moslavina (today's Popovača) in 1545 the Turks looted the Božjakovina area, took part of the population into slavery, and the others fled and moved away. The estate was especially ravaged in 1591 when Hassan Pasha conquered and set fire to Božjakovina Castle and destroyed the market place. Its renewal began after the long war of 1606. The Zrinskis wanted to resettle their land as quickly as possible, so they recognised new settlers (Slavonians and Vlachs) as freemen. About ten predial farms (praedium) had been preserved on the estate from the Middle Ages. In the 1670s about 140families of serfs lived on the estate, most of them new settlers. The peasants owned about 1,100 acres of arable land, 35% of which had been obtained by felling forests. After the abolition of serfdom in 1848 Count Drašković created a large estate that in 1852 had 1,659 acres of arable land, .1,621 acres of meadows, 34 acres of vineyards, 188 acres of pastures, over 4,000 acres of forests. In 1848 Božjakovina had 102 holdings. At the beginning of the twentieth century the estate covered 1,626 ha (2,829 acres), and was divided into the farms of Božjakovina and Dvorišće (394 ha), Ostrna (147 ha) and Čret (803 ha).
There was a castle in Božjakovina, probably from the time of the Hospitallers, mentioned in documents as castrum Bosyako (1510) and castellum Bosyako (1525). Today no trace of it remains. It was beside the Zelina brook where farm buildings stand today, east of the old bridge pulled down in 1945. The chapel of St John Nepomuk, which is shown on the cadastral map from 1862 as St Stephen's, belonged to the castle. It was built in 1744 by Katarina Drašković nee Countess Brandis, and was pulled down in the 1970s. After 1552, when the Turks took Čazma and Dubrava, the importance of Božjakovina Castle increased because it was part of the defense system of Zagreb and Croatia. In the following decades the Croatian Sabor decided several times to fortify the castle: in 1557 it ruled that all the Božjakovina serfs had to work on fortification, and in 1572 that all Tahy's serfs from the estates of Susedgrad, Donja Stubica and Božjakovina had to go on enforced public labor, but because of the great peas- ant revolt in 1573 work on fortifying the castle never took place. The Sabor made similar rulings again in 1574, 1584 and 1589, but despite all its new fortifications the castle could not resist the Turkish attack when it came in 1591 and was burnt down. It was repaired n 1610, but was ruined again in 1672. In an account from that time it is described as wooden with seven rooms, and there were several farm buildings beside it. It had a moat. In the eighteenth century the castle was deserted because by then the Božjakovina Manor House had already been built. Several important buildings were constructed in the eighteenth century, when Count Drašković owned Božjakovina: the old manor house known as Blahimir (later called Lješčara), the new manor house, the curia on the Zagreb-Vrbovec road, a curia in Dvorišće, and several curias on the Božjakovina farms.
BLAHIMIR Manor Hotlse (called after the place name Blaha Katarina) was probably built by the Draškovićes in the early eighteenth century, when Božjakovina Castle was in ruins and could not be lived in. Unfortunately, we know almost nothing about its construction. Today it is deserted and little more than a ruin in the fields near the Zelina-Lonja-Glogovnica-Česma canal about 950 m southeast of the new Božjakovina Manor.
About 800 m north of the New Manor, on the site of the former toll house on the Zagreb-Vrbovec road, stands an eighteenth-century late-Baroque two-storey curia. It was built as a hostelry, inn and place for changing horses. In 1924 a primary school was opened in the curia.

 
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