The Nádasdy Family

Nádasdy family crest, Nádasdladány, Nádasdy Castle


The ruins of a castle that was thought to be only a legend was found in the forest of Nadasd.

The region of Nadasd in Hungary was known as the land of the Britons. In the village there was a bridge called the Bridge of the Three Princes and a hill called the English Virgin's Hill.** There was another hill the villagers called “Castle Hill” because of the legend that there had once been a castle there that was the home of two English princes. **see story of St. Margaret below

By the 20th Century the tale of an ancient castle having been on the hill generally dismissed by outsiders as quaint legend with no basis in reality. However, excavations in 1963 of  Nadasd's 'castle hill' revealed the foundations of a castle complex enclosed by a defensive wall that was 3 meters thick, 263 meters long and 36 meters wide. Here are some images of the site. After ascertaining the layout and dimensions of the castle the archeological project ran out of money which might be why we see so little of it now. On the other hand maybe this is all that's left to see...

  • This is a model of Rékavár castle as it looked a thousand years ago (Balázs Szakonyi)
  • The deep ditch was the moat (photo:
  • Tributes left to St. Margaret (photo:
  • Remains of a wall (photo:

The Nadasdy Crest

The image of the duck between two reeds is derived from the the swampy terrain of Nadasd.

  • The grave stone of János, the son of Nádasdy Lőrinc 1380 (Szentgotthárd Abbey)

The Legend of the Nadasdy Ancestry

Fugitive English Princes, Vikings, and the King of Hungary

In the year 1016 the Vikings conquered England. Their leader, Canute, took the throne from King Edward Ironside.

Canute wanted to get rid of Edward's heirs, the infant princes, Edmund and Edward, but thought it unwise to kill them in England. So, he sent them to King Olaf of Sweden and asked him to kill the princes. Instead, King Olaf, who had been friends with their father, Edward Ironsides, sent them to the court of King Stephen of Hungary where they lived happily until King Canute heard the heirs to the throne of England were alive and sent assasins to Hungary to kill them. However, King Stephen got wind of the plot and counseled the now teenage princes to depart with all speed Russ-Kiev (today's Russia) where they were given sanctuary by Grand Prince Yaramov. 

Apparently they did not like living at the court of Yaramov because it was much more austere and rigid than the royal residence in the newly formed Hungarian Kingdom. Then a strange confluence of events occurred.

After the death of King Stephen, turmoil in the succession of the Hungarian crown caused Prince Andrew to also seek asylum in Russ-Kiev. From there he launched an incursion into Hungary and Edward and Edmund joined him. Andrew was crowned king and gave the English princes, who were now young men, the estates, castle and village of Nadasd in the region of Vas.

Edmund was supposedly quite handsome and popular with women. Soon he was entangled in a passionate love affair with one of the Hungarian princesses at the court of King Andrew. It caused a huge scandal especially because the princess became pregnant. King Andras sanctioned a marriage between the lovers and they retreated to Edmund's estates in Nadasd where she gave birth to a son. Not long afterward Edmund was killed in battle fighting for King Andras and his son inherited the Nadasd estates. The legend is the son took the name of his estate (as often was the case in those times) and was the ancestor of the Nadasdy family who became known as the Lords of Nadasd. 

As for Prince Edward, the new king of England was dying and had no heirs so when he found out the prince was alive he summoned him to England so that the crown would pass to him. Edward went to England but died three days after arriving. It's likely he was poisoned by Canute

- Eve Hars

Note: The claim that the Nadasdys were descended from these princes can niether be proved nor disproved.

  • Viking King Canute the Great (14th century portrait)
  • King Olaf Scotking of Sweden, depicted on a coin of his
  • King Stephen in the Chronicon Pictum
  • Yaroslav the Wise on his seal
  • King Andrew of Hungary, Thuroczy Chronicle

Round Churches

The foundations of a 12th century round church and tower built by the Nadasdy family in the 1100s were found and excavated in  2003. The wooden structures in the picture were built over the foundations as a monument. Round churches were built in Europe in the 11th and 12th centuries and very few survive today. It may have looked like one that did survive in Kallósd, Hungary.

  • Round church, Kallósd.
  • Foundations of the round church in Nadasd (photo: Zoltan Nadasdi Szabo)

Saint Margaret

Rekavar is now considered the birthplace of Saint Margaret. She was the daughter of Edward, the fugitive prince of England who married the daughter of the Hungarian king. 

Margaret (Margit in Hungarian) grew up to  marry Malcolm, the king of Scotland. After his death, she became a nun a devoted herself to helping the poor. She was later canonized as a saint. People make pilgrimages to the ruins to honor her.

  • Saint Margaret was Queen of Scotland from 1070-1093 (image from a medieval family tree)

Genealogy charts

The genealogy charts were made in the the 1890s for a ten volume series on Hungarian nobilty, Magyarország családai: czimerekkel és nemzékrendi táblákkal by Ivan Nagy. It was a great resource for tracing family lines. In terms of our ancestry the order goes - Hars-Nagy-Kenesssy-Felsobuli Nagy-Nadasdy. You can see at the bottom of Tabla II highlighted in pale yellow is Judit Nadasdy who married Mihaly (Felsobuki) Nagy in 1699.  

Table II shows where to main branches of the family split between Laszlo and Ferencz. We come from the Laszlo side. The Ferencz (1492) side is charted on Tabla III. Ferenc's son Tamas married the immensely wealthy Orsolya Kanisai and became Palatine of Royal Hungary after the kingdom had split into three parts as a result of the invasion of the Ottoman Empire in 1526.

Now the main pre-occupation for Hungarians at that time time was fighting Turks . One of the greatest Turk-fighters of them all was Tamas Nadasdy's son Ferencz. He was so feared on the battlefield that his enemies called him "The Black Knight of Hungary."  However what he is most known for today is having been the husband of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, otherwise known as the Blood Countess who is listed in the Guiness Book of Records as the the worst serial killer in history. As a result of her crimes, which truly were gut-wrechingly heinous, she was walled up in the tower of her own castle where the torture/murders took place: Cachtice Castle only survives as a ruin but part of the tower where the countess was condemned to die still remains.

- Eve Hars

  • Table I
  • Table II
  • Table III

Judit Nadasdy's relation to you

  • Judit Nadasdy's relation to you

Interesting Facts

The Lost Kingdom

Nowadays Hungary is a small country we don't hear too much about but throughout the Middle Ages it was the largest cohesive political entitity in Europe. The Kingdom of Hungary existed as an independent realm for over five hundred years from 1000 A.D. to 1526 during which time it was considered one of most powerful countries in western civilization. It included territories of what are now Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Romania, Transylvania, Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia, as well as parts of Austria, Poland and the Ukraine. Yet, history only seems to remember it in its relationship to Austria- first as part of the Habsburg Empire and later as half of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The families whose legends and I present on this site are part of the rich and unbelievably dramatic history the the Hungarian Kingdom that was driven externally by the threat of the Holy Roman and the Ottoman Empires and internally by a constant tension between the monarchs and the powerful barons. This caused a series of battles of succession that, I have to say, kind of make the War of the Roses look like a picnic in the park.

About the Nobility of Hungary

Like most kingdoms in medieval times, Hungary was divided into two main classes, nobles and commoners. But within these groups were further distinctions. The nobility was divided into the categories of "higher" and "lesser." The high nobility were the magnates, families that owned in the area of thirty or more estates that probably included a castle or several castles. They lesser were all the rest ranging from those those that owned twenty estates to those who owned only one impoverished estate to those who owned no estates at all but nevertheless had a coat-of-arms.

There were many noble who had less than well-off peasants.

Some had titles that translate as follows.

The head of the county: comes or ispan = count

Deputy head of county: alispan = viscount

Governor of a territory or sub-nation: ban, voivode = duke, earl, prince (e.g. Ban of Croatia, Voivode of Transylvania)

What made these titles different from their English counterparts was that generally until the 1500s they were NOT HEREDITARY. They only applied to the people during the time they held the office and the rank did not pass on to their children. The king could remove them from their positions and appoint someone else. There wasn't much job security. Patents of nobility and the accompanying coats of arms were hereditary. Nobility could pass on the father's side and the mother's side but property could only be inherited by sons, while the inheritance of daughters was the equivalent of 1/4 of the property's worth in currency.

Interestingly noble women kept their maiden names after they were married while their children took the husbands name.

Barons v. Barons of the Realm

Baron was an informal designation for wealthy lords who owned a large amout of property usually including a castle. All the lords with estates and villages attached by the charter to a particular castle were the baron's banderium, or bannermen. They pledge loyalty to the baron and were under obligation to respond to his call to arms with one "lance" (meaning heavily armored knight) or several archers for every 10- 20 serfs they had, depending on the ratio stipulated at the time.

Barons of the realm were those members of the nobility who held the highest offices in government and in the royal household were usually either descended from the original clans of the Hungarian tribes that settled in the Carpethian Basin in the late ninth century or from the foreign knights that came to the kingdom with their own small armies to provide military support to the Hungarian kings in the 11th and 12th centuries. Originally They were called barones regni, barons of the realm, a status originally only held by the office holder while he was in office but by the late 1300s it also to applied to the descendants of the high office holders. They became known as the magnates and were given the prefix of 'magificus' in documents.

The 19 Families

In the late 1400s, nineteen families were distinguished from the rest of the barons of the realm by King Matthias. They were now called the natural barons of the realm (barones regni natureles). The list included the Orszag, Rozgony, and Hedervary families.

Barons of the Realm

Holders of the highest offices in the Kingdom of Hungary:

  • Palatine
  • Royal Judge
  • Bans of Croatia, Severin & Slavonia
  • Voivode of Transylvania
  • Master of the Treasury
  • Master of the Horse
  • Master of the Cupbearers
  • Master of the Stewards
  • Master of the Doorkeepers
  • Ispan of the Counties Pozsony & Temes