Thurzó family

House of Thurzó

 Habsburg Monarchy
 Austrian Empire
 Kingdom of Hungary

  • Count Thurzó de
Founded 1430s
Founder György (I)
Final ruler Imre (Árva branch)
Mihály (Szepes branch)
Dissolution 1621 (Árva branch)
1636 (Szepes branch)
Cadet branches Árva branch
Szepes branch

Thurzó or Turzo (German; Hungarian: Thurzó; Slovak: Turzo; Polish: Turzonowie) was a Hungarian noble family from the 15th century to the first half of the 17th century. It was in Kraków (Cracow) that the rise of the Thurzó family began, and the family in turn boosted that city into an important center of business, science, and Renaissance high culture. The family's long-term involvement in capitalist enterprises, high-level politics, the affairs of the Church, and its patronage of the arts made the family rich, famous and powerful well beyond the city. Its achievements resembled the Medici family in Italy and France, perhaps the Fugger family in Germany. Key family patriarchs were Johann Thurzó (1437-1508) and his sons Johann (1466-1520), bishop of Breslau/Wroclaw, and Stanislaus (1471-1540), bishop of Olmütz/Olomouc. Karen Lambrecht argues that the family's most important role was in facilitating "intercultural communications." That is they used their vast network of friends, clients and allies to introduce new concepts in the arts, facilitate the exchange of ideas among scientists, and open contacts among different high status social groups.[1]


The ancestors of the Thurzó family were perhaps Germans,[2] coming from Lower Austria.[3][4] Their original land holdings were located around the village of Betlenfalva in the Szepes county (today Betlanovce, Spiš region). From the end of the 15th century, they were mostly businessmen and entrepreneurs in Kraków, Levoča, Szepes, Gemer, central Upper Hungary, Transylvania, Bohemia and Germany.


In 1495, they established the Thurzo-Fugger company, which is sometimes regarded as the first capitalist company in Europe.[5] They soon acquired a monopoly on the trade of copper and opened new places all over Europe. Around the year 1500 they dominated the production of precious and non-ferrous metals in Hungary.

From their earnings they bought lands in the northern part of the Kingdom of Hungary (today Slovakia), and owned several castles and their surroundings, for example Červený Kameň, Lietava, Tematín, Zvolen, Hlohovec, Orava and so on, as well as land in the other parts of the Kingdom of Hungary and Germany.

In the whole of the 16th and the first half of the 17th century, they were one of the most prominent families of Royal Hungary, and slowly began to control the key top posts in the kingdom. They became perpetual ispáns (hereditary heads) of the Szepes (Spiš) and Árva (today Orava) counties (in today Slovakia).

The Thurzó family died out in the first half of the 17th century, with the Árva-Biccse branch in 1621 and the Szepes branches in 1635 and 1636.


  1. Karen Lambrecht, "Aufstiegschancen und Handlungsräume in Ostmitteleuropäischen Zentren um 1500: Das Beispiel Der Unternehmerfamilie Thurzo," Zeitschrift für Ostmitteleuropa-Forschung 1998 47(3): 317-346. ISSN 0948-8294; not online
  2. Jacob Strieder, Jacob Fugger the Rich: Merchant and Banker of Augsburg, 1459-1525, Beard Books, 2001, p.113
  3. Jacqueline Glomski, Patronage and humanist literature in the age of the Jagiellons: court and career in the writings of Rudolf Agricola Junior, Valentin Eck, and Leonard Cox (University of Toronto Press, 2007), p. 261 online Citation: "The family emigrated from Lower Austria (Niederösterreich) into the Tatra mountains"
  4. Pallas Nagylexikon. "Thurzó" (in Hungarian). Kislexikon. Retrieved 2014-01-01.
  5. Kayo Hirakawa, The Pictorialization of Dürer's Drawings in Northern Europe in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, pg. 48, Peter Lang Publishing (2009), ISBN 3-03911-725-4
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