Natural conditions of bohunice and its surroundings
The town of Bohunice is part of the Nitra Autonomous Region and is located at the nothern tip of the district of Levice. Bohunice is based at the edge of the volcanic Central Slovak Highlands (Slovenské stredohorie) and the Danube Plain. The volcanic mountains here represent the southern projections of Štiavnické Hills (Štiavnické vrchy), while the Ipeľská Downs (Ipeľská pahorkatina) is the northernmost projection of the Danube Plain. The highest point of the cadastral territory is a peak Bohunický Grebe (Bohunický Roháč) at 558 metres above sea level. Bohunice is located on the verge of warm and moderately warm climatic territory. I tis thus part of warm district with moderate winters. Sikenica River flows crosses the town Bohunice. Its upstream part is called Štampoch. With its 47 km in lenght, Sikenica is an important left-hand tributary of the River Hron. The location on the southern edge of Štiavnické Hills determines to a large extent the type of flora as well as fauna in the area, with mainly thermophilic species typical of the highlands of western and southern Slovakia. In the past the Carpathian oak and hornbeam forests covered virtually the entire territory of what is now the municipal area of Bohunice, while oak-ceriated forests could be found on suitable sites. Diverse plant communities spread along the Sikenica river as lining riparian vegetation only a few meters wide. Given the location, the abiotic and floristic conditions on the foothills od Štiavnické Hills, the fauna of Bohunice and its surroundings is highly thermophilic. The Sikenica River creates an interesting habitat for aquatic animals, such as mayfly larvae and caddis fly, and a number of water crustaceans. Predatory, but protected praying mantis (Mantis religiosa) inhabits the sunny grassy locations, while grasshoppers seek similar biotypes. Field cricket (Gryllus campestris) can be found on field edges. The beetle family is primarily represented by the predatory species of the family of crustaceans, not least by the great lucan (Lucanus cervus). Within the multicoloured word of butterflies swallowtails draws attention. The most useful animals include pollinators, bees and bumble bees. The most common amphibians include a few kinds of jumpers as well as the bufi toad (Bufo bufo) and tree frog (Hyla arborea). The snakes that have been noted include the grass snake (Natrix natrix) and tree snake (Zamenis longissimus). The birds, particularly in the forests and on their edges, represent a community of diverse and numerous species. Among the mammals, the relatively common species in the Bohunice area include insectivores, such as the pale hedgehog (Erinaceus concolor), European mole (Talpa europaea) or a forest shrew (Sorex araneus). The Sikenica River is the biotop of river otter (Lutra lutra). The most significant species among the wild game include the boar (Sus scrofa), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) and red deer (Cervus elephus). The Bohunice municipal area includes two territories that are protected by law. The Bohunice Park is a protected area directly located in town. The brim of the Bohunice cadastral area reaches the edge of the protected countryside area of Štiavnické Hills.
Prehistoric and early settlement of Bohunice
The oldest traces of settlement of the town date to the early Stone Age, the Neolithic era. It is the period of significant historical development in human society. Production economy replaced that of the earlier periods – the Palaeolithic and Mesolithic eras – which was based on hunting and picking. Man gradually either limited or abandoned the hitherto passive means of food gathering to turn towards conscious grain cultivation and livestock breeding. Animal domestication and grain farming, together with development of permanent settlements, are jointly referred to as the characteristic features also known as the Neolithic revolution. A confirmed settlement of the early farmers in the town’s cadastre is along the Short Creek (Krátky Potok). The period brought considerable deforestation and development of a cultivated area with pastures and agrarian land that have essentially lasted until today. The Younger Stone Age was succeeded by the Late Stone Age, the Neolith, by some researches also referred to as the Copper Age. This period brought along two types of production material – traditional stone and coloured metals, particularly copper, gold, silver, etc. The settlement in Bohunice dating to the Late Stone Age has been documented in the location of Dielce. It is linked to the discovery of a stone busting hatchet with a hole drilled in the rear. The period also brought a settlement at a significant landmark over the town, the site of Hrádok. The Bronze Age followed the Stone Age as the period of prehistoric human evolution that brought an expansion of the use of bronze, having thus raised technical, economic and social standards. As Bohunice is based on the foothills of Štiavnické Hills rich in deposits of coloured metals, copper, gold and silver, one can rightly anticipate there a settlement involved in metal processing, as is the case of Hrádok. The subsequent Early Iron Age ended the prehistoric phase. The period that followed, the Late Iron Age also known as the Laten period opened a new era – the phase of protohistory. Kelts gradually came to Central Europe from the West. The period also saw an emergence of the first proper tender, the coins. Keltic coins have been found in Bohunice. The exposed site of Hrádok was settled later as well, in the Early Middle Ages, as is evidenced by a finding of a fragment of a clay pot. The very name of the municipal site Hrádok (small castle) suggests a presence of a small towered middle-age castle on the elevation east of the town. Small castles of this kind used to serve as an aristocratic home of the local landlord, though they might have served strategic and defence purposes. From the 12th to the 15th century such castles were widespread across the territory of what is now Slovakia. Circular in shape, they were surrounded by moat and rampart. Earlier they served to protect both the landlord and the population of the entire town.
The territory of the Bátovská Valley (Bátovská dolina) in the valley of the Sikenica Creek is wedged into the picturesque Štiavnické Hills with the wealth of ore veins and forests. I tis part of an area in Slovakia with presumed continuity of settlement since the oldest times. The area used to be an integral part of the principality of Nitra, alongside which it became part of the Greater Moravia in 833AD. Hradisko located on the site of Hrádok over Bohunice controlled the basin from the east and the long-distance road to Banská Štiavnica. The continuity of the local settlement is indicated in the title of Bohunice which derives from the Slavonic first name Bohúň or Bohun. The village undoubtedly existed long before its first mention in 1270.
The Bátovská Valley was included as part of the country administration into the royal commit (Zhupa) of Hont. As early as the Early Middle Age, the wealth of ore in Štiavnicke hills brought German colonist into the Bátovská basin (Bátovská kotlina). Yet a more intensive influx of the Germans into the region only followed after the Tatar invasion. The German miners and townspeople from Banská Štiavnica acquired the hold of the town of Pukanec, along with Bohunice and Dekýš that were part of administration of the royal castle of Hont from the Hungarian king Béla IV. In 1270 Pukanec (Baka), Bohunice (Bagana) and Dekýš (Gukes) were sold for 250 silver hryvnia to the miners and the townsmen of Štiavnica: Weneli, Willan, Thamar, and Albert. Within a specifically unidentified timescale the town thus ended up in the royal hands and was brought under the Levice dominion.
The transition into the royal property occurred at the time of the magnate Matúš Čák's growing power and control over the territory of South West Slovakia. The second oldest written report on Bohunice suggests that the warden of Levice, Imrich of Beča acquired properties (a mill) here sometime after 1321. Upon his death it passed to his sons Teteuš and Vezeuš. The rest of the town was already part of the royal castle property of Levice. From the beginning of the 14th century Bohunice was part of the feudal estate of Levice, except for the mill that belonged to the nobles of Beč.
The defeat of the Hungarian army at the Battle of Mohacs in 1526 proved catastrophic for Hungary. The Ottoman forces were particularly keen on the lucrative Central Slovak mining area. Its major part, including Banská Štiavnica, was located in the seat of Honta. In the first half of the 16th century Bohunice had some 33 houses. In face of the threat by the Turks, an entire network of signalling posts (guard towers) was built along the Bátovské Valley. One of the lesser known guard towers used to signal the arrival of the Ottoman troops was built at Hrádok over Bohunice. The last of the heirs of the Levice dominion, Ján Čech died in 1533 in early age having thus ended the male lineage of the family. According to the law of the time, his inheritance passed as escheat to King Ferdinand I. On 13 January 1558 Ferdinand, the King of Hungary awarded the assets to the Transylvanian Duke Dobo of Ruská. In 1560 the Ottomans added the conquered part of the Honta seat to the sadjak of Novohrad. The Turks moved back and forth in the area of Bohunice. The Ottoman tax register dating 1570 shows that the Turks had an annual return from the town in the value of 2,000 Akce, having merely registered 7 houses. Juraj Barbarič, the Captain of Pukanec became the new proprietor of Bohunice. In October 1599 the Grad Vizier Ibrahim sent the Crimean Tatars into Hungary. They could already be seen in the Bátovská Basin by early October. In 1624 the Turks managed to raid Bohunice along with Bátovce and Pečenice, having left behind major devastation. In addition to Bohunice, they burned down both Bátovce and Pečenice.
Early 17th century saw a chance in the sovereign owner in Bohunice. Nitra-based aristocrat Peter Bartakovič acquired served assets in Bohunice around 1600. The Bartakovič family thus became proprietors of merely a half of the Bohunice reserves at the end of the 16th century the other half ended up with the Bratislava-based postal master Pompeius a Paar under unidentified circumstances.
Meanwhile, however, the Habsburgs decided in 1604 to give the Levice Domain to Siegfried Kolonič. The second half of the Bohunice reserves that belonged to Pompei Paar passed to the hands of the Krupina Captain Benedikt Pogáni in 1612. Yet this part of town is listed in 1630 as already owned by Imrich Liptai. Reformation became a significant side feature of the era. It responded to the decline of the Catholic Church. The people of Bohunice followed the Reformation. They became part of the Lutheran parish of Horné Jabloňovce (Upper Almáš). The development was likely to take place in the second half of the 16th century under the influence of the landlord Juraj Barbarič and his son-in-law Peter Bartakovič. The Lutheran found support in the new landlord who were members of the hard core Hungarian Protestant aristocracy – the Jánokys and the Hellenbachs. They became the owners of the Bohunice assets thanks to their landlords, the Bartakovičs, who failed to have offspring and the lineage died out at the close of the 17th century. Bohunice remained an exclusively Lutheran town – In 1638 t was an autonomous Lutheran Parish within the Honta seniorate. The town was exclusively ethnically Slovak; the landlord of Bohunice spoke Slovak. Merely the Ňáris who came to the town in the early 19th century were Hungarian, thought they gradually acquired the basics of Slovak.
Within the 18th century the proprietary situation in Bohunice changed significantly. In the late 17th century the heirs of a part of the Bartakovič estate in town was transferred to Žigmund Jánoky. Ladislav Jánoky didn’t produce any male heir. Through his eight daughters the landholdings in Bohunice were split into a number of properties. The Hellenbach family became the next co-owner of Bohunice as the imperial physician Ján Bohumil Hellenbach acquired properties in 1698.
Six mills of Bohunice
The presence of the mountain creek Sikenice that springs in Štiavnické Hills gave a particular impulse to the development of milling in town. Bohunice became the best known milling site in the area with six mills as early as 18th century. The number was retained until mid-20th century. Yet it wasn’t until the second half of the 18th century that milling underwent real development, when the six aforementioned mills were already in place. The mills can be identified from historical maps, particularly the one from the 2nd military census of 1828, the cadastral map of Bohunice of 1868, the town´s land registry of 1868 and the water registry of 1910. Related archival evidence enables similar identification of their owners.
Mining: the end of an era
Mining in the Pukanec mining ground proved unprofitable in the 18th century. Pukanec, the seat of the mining court from 1752-1788, had only a few remaining operational mines. Public administration of the mines didn’t show major interest in mining and the majority were in the hads of private miners by the. The county of Bohunice with only a few insignificant mins and poor in ore was part of the Pukanec mining district. Yet it remained on the minds of miners and seekers of roe veins. In the 18th century they kept searching for new ore deposits in hope to discover a profitable repository. A townsman Pukanec, Ondrej Šuška tried to seek the ore veins in the county of Bohunice in 1789.
Village administration was quite simple in the past. It was determined by individual historical and legal development in each town. Its common feature was dependence upon a landlord who oversaw and provided consent through his administrators – municipal councillors, particularly the most significant of the all, the mayor. In the 18th century the situation in Bohunice was complicated as the land was split among numerous landowners into a number of holdings. Each was thus likely to nominate his own mayor of Bohunice. From among the candidates all men present elected a representative – the reeve – for the period of one year (with majority of votes). The town was allowed to nominate the remaining councillors, though only in the presence of the landlord or his administrator. From the mid-18th century the election of a reeve and the council was carried out regularly on 1 November each year. The reeve of Bohunice, a quintessentially Slovak town, was called the principal reeve or just a reeve. The 8-member town council was elected alongside with the mayor. The councillors were referred to as the sworn-ins. They had a range of responsibilities, particularly related to tax collection. At the same time one of them served as the town speaker – a tribune (in Bohunice called an orator). The municipal administration of Bohunice included additional members – “municipal servants”. They were mostly town watchmen, wardens, shepherds. Since Bohunice was also a winemaking town, vineyard master (peregs) helped in the administration. A pereg was responsible for keeping order in vineyards, for activities related to their maintenance, sales and farming. The vineyards of Bohunice had two winemaking “hills”, and thus two vineyard masters assisted by wardens. Throughout the 18th and in the first quarter of the 19th century municipal manuscripts were certified by a municipal seal (typarium). Together with the reeve´s accounts it was kept in the reeve´s chest. The oldest seal of Bohunice was probably made in the 2nd half of the 18th century. It was inscribed with a text SIGILLVM ● PAGI ● BOHUNICENSIS●. The town chose for a seal a crowned double tailed lion standing on the grass, holding a bush vine. The oldest stamp of the seal date to 1769 on manuscript of the second half of the 18th century. The content of the seal later inspired the municipal coat of arms. Throughout the 18th century Bohunice remained exclusively Lutheran. Because of the support by the landlords, the Bohunice Lutheran church kept developing relatively well. In 1720 a small wall was built around the church which was rebuilt into present looks in 1703 and 1779. An added tower gave it a new look. In 1788 the Lutheran church of Bohunice developed a new parish building. Bohunice were among the significant Lutheran towns in the Honta region. Only a few congregation were able to pride themselves in such a wide range of leaders. They include Jakub Mokoíni, author of a philological dissertation, who server as minister in Bohunice frm 1717-1741; Jakub Ribay writer, linguist, ethnographer and publicist, became leading representative of the Enlightenment science and the founder of numerous Slavic disciplines or the nationally oriented Evangelical pastor Michal Gondra (1770-1815), originally from Bátovce who passed his love to the nation to his children as well. His son, Michal Jr. (1801-1874) following his studies, joined national cultural activities in the circles of the Slovak national intelligentsia within the Budapest-based Association of Lover of the Slovak Language and Literature. He was involved in a range of national cultural events in the Lowlands. Younger of the brothers, Samuel Gondra (1806-1872) graduated in theology in Vienna to become a writer. As a poet he became one of representatives of the Slovak pre-Romantic literature. The yougenst of the brothers, Jozef (1809-1873) served as a teacher in the town of Lalit (today Lalić) in Vojvodina. Alongside his pedagogical work he actively supported the Slovak Heritage Trust (Matica slovenská).
The aristocratic Ňáris family came to Bohunice at very beginning of the 19th century. The family gave birth to a whole range of leaders born at the Bohunice manor house. Ignác Ňári was the Vice-governor of the Honta district and became baron on 9 December 1836. He had an only son, Anton Ňári (1803-1877). He also reached the provincial high rank – having server as the royal chamberlain (1837), royal judge (1845) and the warden of the Hungarian crown (1863). From 1872 he was member of House of Lords and dearer of the St Stephen Cross. All of Anton´s children were exceptionally successful, having thus made good reputation to Bohunice across Hungary. Virtually all of the children whom he had with his wife Jozefína Kubíniová were born there: Július Ongrej Ignác (5.2.1827-1907), notary of the Hungarian Parliament; Albert Eduard František (30.6.11828-1886), historian and editor, and an exceptional heraldist; Matilda Alžbeta Hermína (9.11.1829-1903) – having married Captain Emil Schulpe she lived in Bratislava and gave birth to a scientist, social reformer an humanist Juraj Schulpe; Adolf Ervín Alexander (23.3.1831-1871), Hussar Captain and Knight of the 2nd decree Iron Crown Order and imperial-royal chamberlain, and later an inspector of the Lutheran churches in the Gemer District; Eugen Gustáv Anton (29.2.1836-1914) who became known as Hungarian archaeologist and scientist who made a particular contribution to research in archaeology. Belo was a politician and member of Hungarian Parliament for the counties of Krupina and Šahy and an inspector of the Bohunice Lutheran church. He had twins who were born in Bohunice in 1871: Anton and Mária (she died a few days later). Belo Ňári later lived in the family manor in Kalinčiakovo, where he died in 1900.
The people of Bohunice joined those who sought happiness and better life abroad, particularly in the United States where they immigrated in late 19th and early 20th century. The lives of many of the Bohunice men ended on the battlefields of the Great War. The end and the outcome of World War I changed the map of Europe. The Czechoslovak Republic was among the new states that emerged from the ruins of the Habsburg Monarchy. According to the 1919 census, Bohunice had 104 houses and 445 inhabitants, 378 of whom identified themselves as Lutherans. The crash on the New York exchange on 24 October 1929 set off the economic crisis. Massive unemployment and social problems helped the rise of extreme right parties in Europe and eventually led to yet another war. On 29 September 1938 the representatives of Great Britain and France signed an agreement in Munich on the devolution of Czechoslovak borderlands to Germany, Poland and Hungary. Levice were transferred to the Hungarian administration. During World war II Bohunice was part of the county of Banská Štiavnica. The war inflicted major damages to the town, with the front stopping there for three months. The war also had a death toll in Bohunice. Three guerrilla fighters in the Slovak National Uprising perished in the concentration camps. In 1948, three years after war, the Communists took over to introduce a single party system that lasted until the Velvet Revolution of 1989. Collectivisation that followed the Soviet model brought an installation of a farmer cooperative in town. The Communist Party tried to impose atheism upon population. Churchgoers faced problems at work, in choosing universities and finding place in society. The population kept on declining annually. The forestry company left the town, the cooperative was integrated into Bátovce, the kindergarten and school closed down. The process resulted in the merger of Bohunice with Pukanec on 1 January 1976.
1898 brought a return of democratic principles in running the country. That was also reflected in municipal administration. 1993 saw an end to Czechoslovakia and an emergence of Slovakia. At the same time Bohunice separated from Pukanec and became an autonomous town. Darina Zaťková was the first mayor, followed by Vladimír Gábrš in 1997-2010, succeeded in 2010 by Vladimíra Rišková who continues to serve as the mayor until the time of writing this publication. In 1995 Bohunice joined the municipal association of the region of Tekov. In 2003 Viktor Karel became the owner of the former state forestry and the cooperative. Renovation of both manor houses began. The former headquarters of the cooperative were turned into a ranch Palomino.
Historical heritage and sights in Town
The national cultural heritage list contains two monuments of Bohunice: Water mill (reg. ID ÚPZF 2168/1), declared a heritage site in 1997, Turčan´s upper mill and a memorial plaque of 1949 dedicated to the Romanian soldiers (reg. ID ÚZPF 1593/1) on the Lutheran church; it was entered in the heritage list in 1963.
The town has a number of sights that have a memory value to the people of Bohunice.
- Hrádok, an elevated location above the town. The archaeological site was inhabited since the Stone Age. In the Middle Ages, after the Tatar invasion was a small castle that server to protect routes to the mining towns. At the time of the Turkish threat the place was part of the public warning system with a guard tower, varta. The place is a testament to the past cultivation of grapes that was also located on steep slopes. The terraces of the vineyards are well preserved until these days.
- Two mansions and surrounding protected park, the former estate of the landowner. The older of the manors – originally the yeoman mansion was probably built in Bohunice in the early 17th century by Peter Bartakovič. It was rebuilt in late 19th century by the Ňáris. The newer manor house, built by Ignatius Ňári in classicist style, dates to 1816. It was rebuild in 1954. The protected park contains a lot of precious trees and woody plants.
- The Lutheran church was built in 1658. It was damaged during the Turkish wars in the second half of the 17th century. Its nave was rebuild in 1703 and re-arched in 1901. Major repairs took also place in 1933. The consequences of war damages to the church have been removed in 1949. The main altar is made in the Empire style, the altarpiece of 1871 is gift from Alfonz Ňári. The rectory, school and the teacher´s house remain the assets of the Lutheran Church in Bohunice.
- The Bohunice area is rich in vineyard buildings- hut (called ľochy). Underground passages probably served as the model for building the cellars. Cellars hidden outside the towns provided safe protection for the wine stocks. They were dug into the rock, clay or sandstone soil. Ground plan of a vineyard building above ground room consisted of a single room that served as the press. A single living room was added later.
- A cellar in the Drahošov ľoch is quite an interesting historical sight of no specific identification. Given the wine production volume, the corridor hat is several kilometres long served undoubtedly an additional purpose than mere wine processing and storage. It is likely a part of an older mine. One of the corridors that heads towards the nearby Hrádok might have served as an escape route from the medieval fortification.
- The buildings of two additional mills still stand in place: Tencer´s and Turčan´s lower mill that is the oldest of the Bohunice mills.
- Houses that epitomise the development of folk architecture in the northern part of Honta seat in the late 19th and early 20th century remain preserved in town.
- Pajtas (barns – Magyar pajta). The name was influenced by the Magyar language as was the case of a number of other titles in Bohunice. The barns were the largest farm buildings in the peasant dwelling. The site of the barn had its usual purpose. Whilst pajta had multiple use, particularly to store unflailed grains