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4: The Period of Division

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THE battle of Mohács was the prelude to the most miserable period of Hungarian history. The well-nigh two centuries of partition, when the Turks lorded it over the heart of the country and reduced it to a near-desert; the Habsburgs held the western fringe of it in a grip which at times was not much less brutal than the Turks'; while the flickering lamp of the national independence survived only in remote Transylvania, and there precariously. To this day, Hungary bears on her body the scars of these dreadful decades. Yet the partition did not come about immediately, and but for the disastrous accident of the young king's death, it might never have come about at all. Suleiman had not come prepared to conquer Hungary, and after advancing as far as Buda withdrew his army again to the Balkans, only leaving garrisons in a couple of fortresses near the southern frontier, Pétervárad and Ujlak. But the king's death was the signal for another contest for the throne. Many of the magnates, and nearly all the lesser nobles, wanted a national king, in the sense of the 1505 resolution, and were prepared to accept Zápolyai; but Ferdinand of Habsburg had announced himself as Louis' lawful successor, and a certain party, while not conceding any legal validity to the Habsburg-Jagiello family compact, yet held that Ferdinand, with the resources of the Empire behind him, would afford Hungary the better protection against the Turk. It took time for them to persuade Ferdinand to submit to the forms of election, and meanwhile his supporters had crowned Zápolyai in all due form. Ferdinand's partisans nevertheless proclaimed him king, and then a complex military and diplomatic struggle broke out, which lasted for several years. Getting the worse of the earlier exchanges, Zápolyai appealed to the Sultan, who installed him in Buda, and with whose help Ferdinand's effective rule was confined to the western third of the country, but neither claimant was able to drive the other right out of the field, and the barren conflict went on until the whole country was heartily sick of it. At last, in 1538, Zápolyai's ablest adviser, a Croat Franciscan known as Friar George, or Martinuzzi, mediated the secret agreement of Várad, under which each claimant recognised the other's title and the territorial status quo, while Zápolyai, who was much the older man, and then unmarried, agreed that on his death Ferdinand (or his son) should succeed to the entire kingdom. If John Zápolyai had a son (he was then wooing the Polish princess, Isabella) this boy should be compensated with a duchy in north Hungary. On 22 July 1540, John died, but a fortnight later Isabella, whom he had married in the interval, gave birth to a son, John Sigismund, whom the anti-Habsburg party promptly recognised as king. Ferdinand sent an army against Buda, but now the Sultan decided to play for his own hand. In August 1541 he occupied Buda himself. He recognised John Sigismund as king, but as his own vassal, and, moreover, carved a great wedge out of the centre of the country and incorporated it in his own dominions. In 1547 Ferdinand was obliged to conclude a truce under which the Sultan recognised him as de facto ruler, subject to an annual tribute, of those parts of Hungary (the north and west, and the 'remnants of the remnants', as its own Estates called them, of Croatia) then actually held by him, while he continued to recognise John Sigismund's rule in the east. Ferdinand still hoped to recover Transylvania, and in 1551 Martinuzzi persuaded Isabella to renounce her son's claims in return for a duchy in Silesia for him, and monetary compensation for herself. Imperial troops then entered Transylvania, where they committed the grievous miscalculation of assassinating Martinuzzi. The Sultan was, however, determined not to let Transylvania fall to his dangerous enemy, the Habsburg, and in 1564, soon after Maximilian II had succeeded Ferdinand, attacked again. More prolonged fighting followed, in the course of which Suleiman died while besieging the west Hungarian fortress of Szigetvár, the defence of which, by the heroic Miklós Zrinyi, is one of the famous episodes of Hungarian history. The Imperial armies meanwhile stood idly by at Gyr, and failed to follow up the confusion in which the Sultan's death had thrown the Turks. Isabella and her son were reinstated in Transylvania, which in 1566 the Sultan formally declared an autonomous principality under his own suzerainty; if John Sigismund died without heirs the Transylvanians were to elect his successor, subject to confirmation of their choice by the Porte. In 1568 Maximilian recognised this arrangement, and also accepted a new frontier far less favourable than the old: starting from near Nagykanizsa this now ran to the western tip of Lake Balaton, then from the lake's eastern extremity to cross the Danube between Komárom and Esztergom, skirted the foothills above the Great Plain in the north, as far as Eger, and thence ran south-south-east, approximately bisecting the Tiszántúl. The trisection of Hungary was complete.

Of the three parts of Hungary, that which was directly ruled by the Turks had the most to endure. Its sufferings were substantially greater than those of the Balkan countries through which the Turks had advanced earlier, for there the mountains held secluded corners into which the conquerors did not easily penetrate, and in which survivors from the open lands could take refuge. Moreover, the Orthodox church came to terms with the Crescent with a relatively good grace, and even the numbers of its former members who saved their lives, sometimes even their status and their properties, by adopting Islam, was not inconsiderable. The open plains of central Hungary afforded a few secure hiding-places, and the faith of its catholic population proved admirably strong: the number of converts to Islam was minimal.

Further, their conquest had cost the Turks much fighting before it was completed, and the accepted fate of a prisoner taken in war by the Turks, if it was not death, was transportation into slavery. The process began with Suleiman's campaign of 1526; the advance of his army to Buda was marked by a swathe of burning villages, and its retreat was followed by a seemingly endless line of miserable captives, doomed to the slave-markets of Anatolia unless, as often happened, they were slaughtered on the way, as being too much trouble to transport. The scene was re- enacted after every campaign, and even the Sultan's recognised subjects, in time of peace, were not safe. There were, in fact, few years of real peace: at least on the frontiers, guerilla warfare was endemic, and during it, the Turkish irregulars, and still more, their Tatar auxiliary bands, were not particular on which side of the frontier they collected their victims. It was an especial misfortune for the country that Hungarian slaves were highly esteemed in Anatolia and fetched big prices. Sometimes victims were carried off from the heart of the country, or sold by resident masters, in times of what was nominally complete peace.

The fate of those who escaped slavery was a yoke which was often almost as heavy. In the territory ruled by the Turk, which was organised in four (later five) Pashaliks, the whole under the control of the Beglerbeg, Pasha of Buda, the government was entirely Turkish. All former titledeeds became null and void, and if a Hungarian noble remained behind (most of them fled), he lost his rank and all that went with it, and became a peasant among the peasants. The entire land passed into the absolute ownership of the state, which kept one-fifth of it 'for Allah', i.e., under its own direct management, while bestowing the rest in fiefs, usually small, among its own officials and soldiers. These thus formed a landlord class ruling over their peasants much as the native landlords had done. There was, however, this difference, that the fief was not hereditable, nor even granted for the beneficiary's lifetime. He could be transferred at any moment to another part of the Sultan's dominions, and the higher dignitaries were in fact seldom left long in one station. Even the legal dues and taxes, of which one part was paid to the state and the other to the landlord, were heavy, but the short-term fief-holder had also every interest in squeezing the last farthing out of his land and his peasants, and when illegal extortion was added to the legalised burden, it became crushing.

Conditions on the state lands, or khases, were, indeed, perceptibly better. There was little arbitrary exaction, and there are recorded cases of complaints going up to Constantinople and being remedied. The larger localities even enjoyed a measure of self-government, for the Turkish officials found it easier to deal with their inhabitants in bulk, through their own representatives, than man by man. They were thus able to pay their taxes collectively, which was much less burdensome, as preventing illegal exactions against individuals. Some of them, which lay well behind any frontier, came to enjoy a measure of prosperity, practised industry and especially trade (including a large trade in cattle with the west) on a substantial scale, and evolved a solid and self-respecting middle class.

The chief khas country was in the central plain, on the two banks of the Tisza, an area which lay some way behind the frontier, and was used by the Turks as a supply base for their frontier fortresses. The populations of this area forsook their villages and congregated in the relative shelter of the towns, and thus were born the curious 'village-towns' of the Alföld - Szeged, Nagykôrös, Kecskemét, Cegléd, Debrecen and the rest, each of which incorporated in its boundaries the territory of the deserted villages round it. Thus the municipal area of Kecskemét at one time covered over 475,000 acres, which had formerly housed thirty-two villages.

But even this security was very limited and the well-being modest indeed; the cattle-trade itself developed only because the population found arable farming too unrewarding or too dangerous, and the herds which reached the west consisted of wild, skinny beasts which had to be fattened for months in Germany or Austria before they were slaughtered. Such traders as prospered were usually Greeks, Armenians or Serbs, rather than Hungarians.

Generally speaking, the feature of Turkish rule at its best was barren unconstructiveness, and at its more frequent worse, savage destructiveness. Beyond a few baths, the Turks brought nothing whatever to Hungary, except fortresses, and what they found there, they destroyed, or allowed to fall into ruin. The most serious of all the effects, from the national point of view, was the depopulation brought about by the wars, the slave-raiding and the endemic pestilence, aggravated locally by the emigration of refugees. In this respect Hungarian historians have distinguished three zones. The first and worst covered the south of the country, up to the Maros in the east and a line extending westward from its junction with the Tisza to that of the Sárviz with the Danube, thence south-westward past Pécs to the frontier. This area, once among the most flourishing in Hungary, had borne the brunt of the first fighting, and its original population had been practically wiped out before the middle of the century. Later it was partially replaced by immigration from the Balkans, but the new population was far less numerous than the old and less rooted to the soil; they were semi-nomadic herdsmen, rather than farmers. North of this came the main khas country. Here more population had survived, and there had even been some immigration from the south. Yet even here, as late as 1720, a generation after the Turks had gone, the population of Debrecen, the largest of the local towns, was still only 8,000, and that of Szeged, under 5,000, and for perhaps 25 miles all round each of them, there was hardly a habitation to be seen.

The strip of land behind the semicircle of the frontier was rather more densely inhabited, for here were the garrisons, and the state saw to it that the Spahi lands should be occupied. When the population fled, or was massacred, new colonists were brought in. Buda, as the seat of the Beglerbeg, as well as a large garrison station, remained a considerable place. But even here a traveller found in Vác, in 1605, only a handful of peasants who knew only from hearsay that a rich town had once stretched round the sides of their poor huts. The frontiersmen were, incidentally, largely Serbs and Vlachs who followed the Turks when the latter evacuated the country.

With the men, the works of their hands vanished. The walls of the villages crumbled into the soil from which they had been fashioned. More durable buildings stood deserted and ruinous. Smiling fields reverted to swamp and jungle. The rude Balkan herdsmen lived in primitive cabins half sunk in the ground, which they left empty when danger threatened or even when pastures were exhausted.

The devastation wrought by the Turks was, of course, not confined to Turkish Hungary. When the Porte and the Empire were at war, which was frequently enough, the Sultan's armies spread ruin where they passed, but even the periods of 'peace' meant only that no large armies were set on foot; not that all hostilities were suspended. It was nearly thirty years before anything like a continuous defensive line for Royal Hungary was established, and then only along part of the frontier. The rest was protected only by a line of fortresses, often inadequately garrisoned. Turkish and Tatar marauders often slipped through the gaps, laying whole regions waste and massacring their inhabitants or carrying them off into slavery. Hardly any part of Royal Hungary

was spared these visitations, and in the turbulent years preceding the liberation, no place could call itself safe. A considerable zone, in places forty miles deep, behind the whole length of the frontier actually paid a regular Danegeld to the commanders of the local Turkish fortresses to escape these vexations.(1)

The damage directly inflicted by armies or raiders was not the only burden which the neighbourhood of the Turks laid on Royal Hungary. The frontier fortresses and their hinterland covered a considerable part of the country and occupied the energies of much of its population. Young men took service under noted commanders and led adventurous lives of derring-do, paying the Turks back in their own coin. There was much that was romantic in this frontier life, in which the classes sank their differences before the common danger. Even duels between Christian and Turkish paladins were not infrequent. It also provided an excellent military training. But it was not a life in which wealth could accumulate, or the arts of peace flourish.

The loss of so much of Hungary to the Turks, and the difficulty and expense of defending the remainder, were the two main causes in the gradual deterioration of relations between Royal Hungary and its new dynasty which took place in the sixteenth century, and of the progressive real, although not nominal, diminution of its political status.

In the first years after his accession, when he was still fighting to unite all Hungary under his rule (when it would have been by far his most important possession), Ferdinand gave the nation little reason to complain. Having once sworn to respect its constitution, he began by keeping his oath scrupulously enough. At first he left it to be governed for him by the existing Council, under the presidency of his sister, the queen-widow. In 1528 he deferred to the Hungarians' wishes by replacing Maria by a Palatine, Count István Báthory. Membership of the old Council now degenerated, indeed, into a titular honour, but the new Council which Ferdinand appointed to help the Palatine was composed of Hungarians, and Ferdinand did not interfere with their conduct of their business. He reserved two places for Hungarians in the Hofrat which he was organising as his central advisory council for his dominions as a whole - it was they themselves who failed to take up the offer; and while he had begun by providing only secretariats for Hungarian affairs in his top-level central ministries, the Hofkanzlei and Hofkammer, when the Hungarians complained, he allowed them a court chancellery and a camera of their own, nominally subject to no orders except those issued by himself. He convoked the Diet regularly (as he did throughout his reign), levied no taxes without its consent, and deferred to its opinion when it resisted various innovations proposed by him.

But the hope of reuniting Hungary faded, and, especially after Ferdinand had succeeded his brother as Emperor in 1558, Royal Hungary had become no more than a small, outlying and exposed annexe to a mighty organism in which its special problems and interests inevitably counted for little. The Hungarians absence from the Hofrat, while emphasising their country's distinctive status, lost them their opportunity of pressing their case when issues of foreign policy were discussed. The orders to the Hungarian court chancellery, while still issued in the king's name, m fact came from central Hofkanzlei, while in 1537 the Hungarian camera was formally subordinated to the Hofkammer. Above all, Hungary lost her independence in the vital field of the national defence.

It had been obvious from the first that her own resources were insufficient even for the defence of her own frontiers, let alone the recovery of the rest of Hungary, and she herself had insisted that she must be helped to discharge the tasks. The first defensive arrangements were made by agreement between the Estates of Hungary and the neighbouring Lands. Austria proper and Bohemia undertook to help with the defence of the northern and eastern sectors, and, under the first arrangements, did no more than supply garrisons to reinforce those provided by the Hungarians themselves, on whom the brunt of the work fell. The supreme command over all these forces was then still in Hungarian hands, for the Palatine's rights included the command of all armed forces in the country, in the king's absence.

When, however, Báthory died, in 1534, Ferdinand did not appoint a new Palatine, but only a 'locum tenens'. This official, again, was a high Hungarian dignitary, and the change did not impair the nation's autonomy in those fields (which included the judiciary) which were still regarded as interna; but the national defence was no longer among those fields, for the locum tenens did not exercise the Palatine's vital prerogative. In 1556 the responsibility for the defence of all the Habsburgs' dominions was assigned to a central body, the Hofkriegsrat, and on this body the Hungarians, in spite of repeated protests, were never given representation.

The process was carried further still on the southern, or Croat, sector, where Inner Austria had agreed to help. Here it soon became clear that something more than reinforcement of the local Hungarian fortresses would be needed, and a whole new system was organised. The core of it was the chain of fortresses, the garrisons of which were generally German; while the population of the areas round and between the fortresses, this consisting largely of Serb and Croat refugees from the Balkans, was organised as a sort of militia, being given free land in return for a perpetual obligation of military service. In 1578 this strip of land, now divided into two Districts (the Croat and the Wend) was formally withdrawn from the jurisdiction of the Croat Estates and made into a 'Perpetual Generalcy', under the command of the Archduke Charles, then the ruler of Inner Austria. Later again, when the Habsburg dominions were again reunited under one monarch, this, too, came under the administration of the Hofkriegsrat. This was the genesis of the 'Military Frontier' which thereafter, until its dissolution under the 1867 Compromise, proved so effective a thorn in Hungary's flesh.

Thus Hungary received help indeed, but at the cost of submission to foreign control over an essential field of her national life, and she was allowed no say whatever in the great question of the recovery of her integrity. Complaints that she was being ruled by foreigners soon became loud: the unruly conduct of the foreign garrisons, who were often left unpaid and sought their own remedy by plundering the countryside round, became a standing grievance; and feeling became bitter indeed when Maximilian let Zrinyi and his men perish, and on top of that, recognised the Sultan's suzerainty over Transylvania at a moment when most Hungarians believed that it would have been possible to drive the Turks out of all Hungary.

Relations between the nation and its new rulers were already worse under Maximilian than under Ferdinand, for Maximilian, who had claimed to be succeeding his father jure hereditario, had signed no electoral diploma, had no personal memories of Hungary's former greatness and importance, and was accustomed to rule as absolute monarch in his other dominions. He was therefore less punctilious than his father had been about consulting the Diet, and refused to remedy any of the nation's constitutional grievances. He even promised the Imperial Diet that he would incorporate Hungary in the Empire. He was, however, personally an easy-going man, and did not interfere gratuitously in the nation's internal affairs. Matters took a sharper turn for the worse when in 1576 Maximilian was succeeded by the unbalanced Rudolph, and especially when Rudolph transferred his court to Prague. Hungarian affairs were now dealt with only at second hand; from the chancellery at Vienna they were sent on to Prague, where -Rudolph shutting himself away with his circle of astrologers - all decisions were taken by a little clique of military advisers, who saw in the Hungarians only truculent rebels, to be weakened by all possible means. The commanders of the military garrisons claimed complete authority in their districts, and tried to usurp in them even the judicial power.

Now, too, a religious conflict supervened on the constitutional and military disputes. In the preceding half-century the Reformation had swept over Hungary, beginning with its German inhabitants, the burghers of the towns and the Transylvanian Saxons, who had, by great majority, adopted the doctrines of Luther. These, written as they were in German, had not penetrated widely among the Magyars, but after Mohács Calvin's Latin writings had converted to themselves the greater part of the people, spreading with particular rapidity because a very large number of the highest roman catholic dignitaries had perished on the field of Mohács. The Reformation was in itself an event of the first importance for Hungary. It breathed new vitality into a spiritual life which had become in many respects worldly, torpid and degenerate, lending it a fresh inspiration, and one which proved peculiarly well adapted to the national genius. Hungarian Protestantism came to constitute a vigorous creative element in European life, and in particular, the especial embodiment of the spirit of national independence.

But the religious question was destined also to become a source of national weakness by dividing Magyar from Magyar, and as prelude to this, while the nation was still almost entirely protestant, a cause of conflict between the people and its rulers. Neither Ferdinand I nor Maximilian, who himself inclined strongly towards Protestantism, had tried to impede the spread of it in Hungary, but by the time Rudolph succeeded his father, his uncles and cousins had almost completed the enforcement of the Counter-Reformation in Inner Austria and the Tirol, and Rudolph was soon at loggerheads with the Protestants in his own dominions. Relations between him and his Hungarian subjects soon approximated to a condition of cold war, which was complicated and aggravated in 1591 by the outbreak of another official war, known as the 'Fifteen Years War', with the Turks. Both the course and the outcome of this were, however, altered, not only by a change in the nature of the Turkish power, but also by the emergence of Transylvania as a distinct political factor.

As we have seen, the separation of Transylvania from Royal Hungary had been the Sultan's work. After Mohács there had been little positive separatist feeling in either half of the country; Zápolyai had had his partisans in all parts of Hungary, and Ferdinand had his (notably the Saxons) in Transylvania. Both anti-kings had claimed sovereignty over all Hungary, and the aim of all Martinuzzi's diplomatic manoeuvres had been to reach an accommodation between the rivals which should make possible the ultimate restoration of the national unity. Indeed, John Sigismund himself, even after the reaffirmation of his position in 1568, had secretly recognised Maximilian as his suzerain and the national prince whom the Transylvanians had elected in 1570, after John Sigismund's childless death, a local magnate named Stephen Báthori, had also sworn secret fealty to the Habsburg.

But pending the achievement of unity, the east Hungarians had been obliged to conduct their own affairs. Martinuzzi, the political genius and authority of the time and place, had fallen back on the local institution which existed, the old 'Union of the Three Nations', created in 1437 and still functioning. In 1542 representatives of the Three Nations, meeting at Torda, solemnly renewed the Union and thereafter met regularly in Diet; after 1544 this was attended by representatives of the 'Partium', i.e., those counties lying west of Historic Transylvania whose geographical situation forced them into partnership with it (at the time these were Bihar, Zaránd, Arad and the District of Lugos and Karánsebes). Again in 1542, a Council composed of representatives of the Three Nations and of the Chapter of Nagyvárad was established to advise the executive, then personified by Martinuzzi, who was acting as 'lieutenant' for Isabella and her son.

A little later, Transylvania introduced another innovation, a very important one, for which it afterwards became famous. Here, too, the Reformation had made much progress, but the two parties were so evenly balanced that neither dared challenge the other to a duel ŕ outrance, and in 1550 the Diet proclaimed the free exercise of the Catholic and Protestant religions. The Protestants then split into Lutherans and Calvinists, and in 1564 the Diet established 'tolerance' between these two. In 1572 it recognised the catholic, Lutheran, Calvinist and Unitarian creeds as 'established religions', the followers of each to enjoy freedom to practise their faith and equal political rights. The Orthodox faith, that of the Roumanians, was 'tolerated', i.e., could be practise freely, but was not admitted to political equality.

Enjoying these local safeguards, the Transylvanians Protestants were naturally apprehensive of the growing power of the Counter-Reformation in the west. Stephen Báthori was himself a Catholic, but Maximilian's intrigues against him forced him into retaliation, and the differences between him and the Habsburgs were accentuated when the last Polish king of the Jagiello line died in 1572. Although Maximilian hoped to gain the throne, it was Báthori whom the Poles elected to it, in 1575, and thereafter he and his younger brother, Christopher, who governed Transylvania for him until his death in 1581, and thereafter ruled it as his successor, were the Habsburgs' enemies rather than their partners.

When the Fifteen Years War broke out, the picture seemed at first to be reverting to its old lines. Sigismund (Zsigmond) Báthori, who had succeeded his father in 1586, began by allying himself with Rudolph in return for the hand of Rudolph's cousin, Maria Christina, and recognition of himself and his descendants as hereditary princes. The allies at first won important successes over the Turks, but failed to follow them up, and a period of great confusion followed. Báthori, who was a man of unbalanced mind, subject to fits of insane cruelty, abdicated, returned, abdicated again, and the rule over Transylvania alternated between him, his nominees, Rudolph, a local leader named Moses Székely and the Voivode Michael of Wallachia. When Rudolph's troops were in Transylvania, their commander, Basta, inaugurated there a real reign of terror, executions going hand in hand with confiscations and simple spoliation. The same atrocities were committed in Upper Hungary, and throughout Royal Hungary the court took the opportunity to confiscate the estates of many Hungarians, among them the Palatine, Illésházy, on trumped-up charges of treason. The position grew so intolerable that at last one of Sigismund's generals, István Bocskay, himself previously one of the most loyal supporters of the Habsburg cause, revolted. He raised a new army, the backbone of which was constituted by the wild soldier-herdsmen of the plains, known as 'hayduks', and drove Basta, not only out of Transylvania, but also out of Upper Hungary, which rallied to him. A Diet offered him the crown, which he refused, but on 23 June 1606 he concluded with Rudolph the Peace of Vienna, which left him prince of a Transylvania enlarged, for his lifetime, by the counties of Szatmár, Ugocsa and Bereg, and also guaranteed the rights of the protestants of Royal Hungary. Then, through his mediation, the Peace of Zsitvatorok (11 November 1606) was concluded between the Emperor and the Porte. The territorial status quo was left unchanged, but the Emperor was relieved of his tribute to the Sultan.

These treaties ushered in a new period. For the next half century the Turks were unaggressive, and even their rule over their subjects lost something of its brutality. Some travellers brought reports of peasants faring better under Turkish masters than under Christian, and cases occurred of flight across the frontier eastward. Above all, the Turks were indifferent what form of error their Rayah chose to pursue; if anything, they were less hostile to protestantism than to catholicism, with its international connections. Harried protestants in Royal Hungary sometimes called the zealots of the Counter-Reformation 'worse than the Turks'.

The place of the Turks in the power-question was, however, now taken by Transylvania. Bocskay, indeed, died (poisoned, some said) a few weeks after the Peace of Zsitvatorok, and the usual scramble for power followed, then another bad reign by another bad Báthori. But then, in 1613, the Porte forced the Transylvanians to accept as prince the man who was destined to prove the most famous of all the line, Gabriel Bethlen, more commonly known by the Hungarian version of his name, Bethlen Gábor. Bethlen's rule, which lasted from 1613 to 1629, was in every sense remarkable. At home, while avoiding the cruelties and excesses of many of his predecessors, he established a singular variant of patriarchal but sufficiently enlightened despotism. He developed mines and industry and nationalised many branches of Transylvania's foreign trade, - his agents buying up the products at fixed prices and selling them abroad at a profit, almost doubling his revenues by this and other devices. He built himself a grand new palace in his capital, Gyulafehérvár, kept a sumptuous court, and patronised the arts and learning, especially in connection with his own, Calvinist, faith. He founded an academy to which he invited any pastor and teacher from the rest of Hungary, sent students abroad to the protestant universities of England, the Low Countries and protestant Germany, conferred hereditary nobility on all Protestant pastors and forbade landlords to prevent their serfs from having their children schooled.

Other parts of his revenue he devoted to keeping up an efficient standing army of mercenaries, with whose help he conducted an ambitious foreign policy, along new lines. Keeping peace with the Porte, he struck out to the north and west. Partly, no doubt, he was actuated by simple personal ambition, but he seems also to have been genuinely anxious to protect protestant liberties, especially those of his fellow-countrymen in Royal Hungary, against the rising tide of the Counter-Reformation. This combination of motives led him to intervene when the Thirty Years War broke out in 1618, and with the Imperial armies heavily engaged in Bohemia, he overran most of Royal Hungary, where a party offered him the crown in 1620. The Porte vetoed his acceptance of this offer, but by the Treaty of Nikolsburg (31 December 1621) he gained the title of Prince of Transylvania and of Hungary, a big frontier extension and a duchy in Silesia, besides securing confirmation of the rights of the Hungarian protestants. A series of further campaigns, in the course of which Bethlen, with some difficulty, got Transylvania recognised as a member of the 1626 Westminster Coalition, were ended by other treaties which did not alter substantially the position reached at Nikolsburg.

When Bethlen died suddenly in 1629, the Transylvanian Estates abolished most of his internal reforms with as much alacrity and decision as the Hungarian Estates had shown in abolishing those of Corvinus. György Rákóczi I (1630-44) was obliged to follow more conventional methods, and was himself a less original character, but he was a shrewd negotiator and - not less important - the owner of enormous private estates. The power which these gave him enabled him to consolidate his position at home, and he managed to maintain and even advance Transylvania's international status and prestige. He fought the Emperor again, when the protestants of Royal Hungary complained that their rights were being disregarded, beat him, and in the Treaty of Linz (16 December 1645) extracted from him fresh guarantees even more far-reaching than those agreed at Vienna and Nikolsburg. Transylvania figured as a sovereign state in the Treaty of Westphalia.

Largely owing to this support from Transylvania, partly also to the division of the Habsburg patrimony prevailing at the time, Royal Hungary was able to preserve a good deal of political and religious liberty during the first half of the seventeenth century. Matthias, to whom Rudolph ceded the rule over Hungary, Moravia and Austria in 1608, had to submit himself to election and to sign a diploma promising to respect the chartered privileges of the 'Status et Ordines'. In 1613 he wrote bitterly to his cousin Ferdinand that he was quite powerless in Hungary. The Palatine did what he pleased, without troubling himself about either orders or prohibitions. 'If I ask the Hungarians to support me against the Turks, no one budges, but if the Prince of Transylvania asks them for help, the tocsins ring in every county. They mean to depose our House.'

The Hungarians made no such move: Matthias was followed by Ferdinand II and he by Ferdinand III, but each had to sign a far-reaching diploma, and neither was strong enough to break his word on a large scale. Thus Hungary escaped elmost entirely the inhuman enforcement of the Counter-Reformation under which Bohemia suffered so terribly, and was also spared the worst ravages of the Thirty Years War.

With the relative peace there came a revival, also relative and limited to certain circles, of attachment to the dynasty. This was chiefly the work of the great Hungarian Cardinal, Péter Pázmány, made Primate-Archbishop in 1616, who by his extraordinary persuasive genius succeeded in winning the great majority of the magnates (whose tenets, until the Peace of Linz, were automatically followed by their subjects) back to the Catholic fold. The Catholic magnates, including the prelates, came to form a party in Hungary which was at least loyal to the Habsburgs and on their side in the great national issue of east versus west, and their influence was the stronger because they now ranked officially as a separate Estate. Ferdinand I had introduced the institution, previously unknown in Hungary, of hereditary titles of rank, and the families so distinguished, with the great officers of the Crown (who were almost invariably drawn from among them) and the higher-ranking prelates now formed a separate Upper House ('Table') which deliberated separately from the representatives of the counties and boroughs who formed the 'Lower Table'.

Pázmány was active also in the cultural field. He did much to improve the standards of the clergy and to raise the level of education generally. He was the founder of the oldest Hungarian university to survive into modern times, an institution originally sited in Nagyszombat, although later transferred to Buda-Pest. The national culture of the day, in which Austrian, Italian and Polish influences blended curiously with those of the native soil, was highly interesting, and far from insignificant.

Pázmány's work was, however, not an unmixed blessing to Hungary. Against the cultural advance which it brought, and the relaxation of tension with the dynasty, had to be set the acute internal conflict which developed with this phase of its religious history, for the Catholic Hungarians were no more tolerant towards their protestant fellow-countrymen than were the court's German and Spanish advisers, and the antipathy of many of them extended also to Protestant Transylvania. It was returned in full measure by the Protestants of Royal Hungary and by the Transylvanians, who in their campaigns in Hungary took especial delight in burning the castles and ravaging the lands of the Catholic Hungarians. Thus Hungary came again to be deeply divided, by cleavages, both vertical - Royal Hungary versus Transylvania - and horizontal within Royal Hungary itself, where the Catholic magnates were at odds with the lesser nobility, which in the main had remained Protestant.

The position of the pro-Habsburg party - in so far as it can be so called - was in any case ambiguous and painful. Hated by their fellow-countrymen, they were also distrusted by the centralists in Vienna, who saw in the distinctive position which all Hungarians were determined to maintain, only an unnatural and undesirable anachronism. And they themselves were well aware that any concessions to them were unwillingly made and would be retracted if ever the opportunity presented itself.

The problem of reconciling Hungarian chartered privileges with Habsburg centralism was never really solved; and to aggravate it, there was the running sore of the Turkish occupation of central Hungary. If the Turks had abandoned organised aggression, this did not mean that the border forays, with their constant toll of Hungarian blood, had ceased. Moreover, the apparent weakness of the Turks should surely have made it possible to drive them out of Hungary altogether, and it was the king of Hungary's sworn duty to do this. Sometimes individual Hungarians under-took private campaigns, some of which met with considerable success, but the Crown, occupied as it was with the west, refused to support them. It adhered, pedantically or honourably, to its truce with the Porte and let the dismemberment of Hungary continue.

The uneasy balance between the three factors which had been established in 1606 was destroyed when György Rákóczi II of Transylvania, who had succeeded his father in 1648, overreached himself, allowing himself to be drawn into Charles X of Sweden's Polish schemes. In January 1657, seduced by the prospect, held out to him by Charles, of acquiring the crown of Poland, he led an army across the passes, having consulted neither the Transylvanian Estates, nor the Porte. The enterprise was a complete disaster: the army was encircled by the Tatars and most of its members killed or carried off into slavery. By ill fortune, Mohammed Köprülü, the architect of the Ottoman Empire's last renaissance, had just become Grand Vizier. He led a great force against Transylvania and captured, one by one, the great fortresses guarding it. The end of a confused struggle was that Transylvania lost the bulk of the outlying western territories which had furnished most of its real strength. A new prince - Mihály Apafi - was installed, who was a simple puppet of the Porte's.

It was the end of Transylvania both as a European Power and protector of Hungarian liberties, and it also brought about a crisis between the Estates of Royal Hungary and the dynasty. During the fighting, both the Transylvanians and the west Hungarians had appealed passionately to Vienna for help, insisting that now was the chance to end Turkish rule in Hungary. Here, again, the moment was singularly unfortunate. Leopold I, who had just ascended the throne, was among the most convinced Catholics of his line, his advisers, Lobkowitz, Portia, Auersperg and the rest, were among the most extreme devotees of 'Great Austrian' absolutism. Further, Leopold was preoccupied with his struggle against France for the hegemony over Germany, and reluctant to offend the sultan. He did send a small force under his famous general, Montecuccoli, into Transylvania, but when the Turks took this, and hostilities which had been opened independently in south Hungary by Miklós Zrinyi, great-grandson of the hero of Szigetvár, as a casus belli, and attacked Hungary, the old story was repeated. Montecuccoli left Zrinyi to his fate. He defeated the Turks signally at St. Gotthard, on the Austrian frontier, on 1 August 1664, but instead of following this up, Leopold on 27 September concluded the Peace of Vasvár, which would have been more appropriate had Austria been the defeated party: under it, he recognised the Sultan's gains in Transylvania, ceded him a fortress in west Hungary, and even submitted to paying an indemnity.

The vicious circle was now complete. The Hungarians' embitterment was so great that for the first time, an important party in West Hungary, including leading Catholics, turned against the Habsburgs. A group of the highest magnates in the land, including the Palatine himself, Ferenc Wesselényi, opened negotiations with the Porte, France, and other powers. The conspiracy was betrayed and several of the leaders executed. Now Ferdinand's minister, Lobkowitz, organised reprisals on the grand scale. Three hundred noblemen lost their estates. The Cardinal-Primate, Szelepcsényi, and his right-hand man and later successor, Kollonics, seized their chance to press home the Counter-Reformation. Protestant pastors and teachers were ordered to renounce their faith, or leave their homes; those who refused were sent to the galleys. In 1673 the Constitution was suspended and Hungary placed under a Directorate, headed by the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, with a Council composed half of Germans, half of Hungarians.

The official languages were declared to be Latin and German, and officials were required to know 'Slavonic' but not Hungarian. These measures could not long be maintained in their full severity, for the discontent threw up a leader in the person of a young north Hungarian nobleman named Imre Thököly, who, gathering behind him a force (known after Dózsa's followers, as 'kuruc', or crusaders) of refugees, disbanded soldiers and hayduks, and catching Leopold at a disadvantage - war had broken out again between the Empire and France - forced him, in 1681, to restore the Constitution, re-convoke the Diet and promise to remedy most of Hungary's grievances, besides acknowledging Thököly himself as quasi-sovereign of north Hungary.

But this meant no real reconciliation; three Hungarians out of four had now reached the stage of regarding the Habsburgs and 'Austria' as their mortal enemy. And it was just at this moment that the great war opened which ended by bringing all Hungary under Habsburg rule. In 1683 the Sultan, encouraged by Thököly's successes, sent another vast army northward. It swept across Hungary and reached the walls of Vienna itself. Now, however, the tide turned. On 12 September 1683 the beleaguering army was caught unawares, defeated disastrously, and driven back in rout. This time the victory was not squandered. By the end of the year, all Royal Hungary was free. In 1686 Buda was taken after a month's siege, its fall bringing with it the liberation of the rest of the Dunántúl and the Alföld as far south as Szabadka. In 1687 it was the turn of Transylvania and the rest of Central Hungary, except for the corner contained by the Maros and the Tisza, and the Imperial forces even penetrated deep into the Balkans. Louis XIV's invasion of west Germany enabled the Turks to retake Belgrade and re-enter south Hungary, but on 26 June 1699, after some years of less severe and mainly local fighting, the Sultan signed the Peace of Karlowitz, under which he relinquished all Hungary except the Maros-Tisza corner and the long-lost Croat territories across the Sava. So Hungary was liberated and almost completely reunited at last, but at a dreadful cost. The Hungarians' own losses in the operations had been not inconsiderable, for while it is true that the main regular forces were German, Hungarian auxiliaries played important parts in many of the actions. The material devastation was enormous. The vast Turkish army left a train of ruin behind it in its advance, and still more, in its disorderly retreat. Where fortresses held out (and some did for two or even three years) the besiegers scorched the earth round them to cut off the defenders' supplies. What the country suffered at the hands of its liberators was little less. The West Hungarian counties were required to pay the lion's share of the provisioning of the army, and above this, the soldiers billeted in the villages looted, ravaged and raped at will, so that the villagers fled before them. 'What profit will Your Majesty have', the Palatine asked Leopold, 'if He rules only over forests and deserted hills?' In a hundred years, he wrote, Hungary had not paid so much to the Turks as now it was required to pay in two to the armies of occupation. The peasants were perishing of starvation, selling their wives and daughters to the soldiery. According to another writer, many peasants sold their children to the Turks for money with which to satisly the demands of the soldiers.

The general devastation was, indeed, probably worse than it had ever been. The figure traditionally given for the total population at the end of the wars is 1,500,000 for Inner Hungary and 800,000 for Transylvania, plus perhaps another 250,000 for Croatia and the Military Frontier. Modern investigators believe this to be an underestimate, and put the grand total at least three, conceivably four millions. But this was little enough for a country the size of Hungary; moreover, such population as there was was mainly concentrated in the northern counties and in Transylvania. In 1692 the total population of the three counties of Baranya, Somogy and Tolna was officially put at 3,221 souls, 1,652 of them in the city of Pécs alone. Between the Danube and the Tisza the inhabited places were usually a day's journey apart.

Political persecution, too, recommenced as soon as a district was in Imperial hands. Some of the Imperial generals instituted real reigns of terror. In 1683 Carafa, the most notorious of them, after extorting huge sums from the citizens of Debrecen, reported that he was on the track of a dangerous conspiracy against Leopold's life, and after putting numerous nobles and burghers to the torture, had twenty-two of them, all completely innocent, executed.

And now Leopold's anti-Hungarian advisers held that the time had come to proceed to the complete subjugation of the country which Thököly's rebellion had interrupted. After the capture of Buda, the Privy Council met to discuss the modalities of the coronation of Leopold's elder son, Joseph, and some of the participants argued that Leopold was entitled to introduce a completely new system, jure belli. On this, as on several other occasions, Leopold showed himself more moderate than his advisers, and at a Diet convoked in 1687 he agreed to confirm the existing Constitution, subject to three modifications: the succession was made hereditary in the male line of the Habsburgs, the jus resistendi (which Wesselényi and his fellow-conspirators had invoked as justifying their action) was abolished; and to Joseph's promise to observe the country's laws and privileges was added the saving clause: 'as the King and the assembled Estates shall agree on the interpretation and application thereof.'

After this, however, Leopold did not again convoke the Diet, and his rule was, in fact, a malevolent dictatorship exercised by the Hofkriegsrat, the camera (which was staffed largely with Germans) and Kollonics. It is true that a very drastic plan proposed by Kollonics for reorganising the country (in ways some of which would have benefited it) was not adopted, but this was because the Archbishop of Kalocsa succeeded in persuading Leopold that it could not be carried through without the consent of the Diet, which Leopold preferred not to ask. Enough was done without this to put the saying into circulation that Kollonics' object was first to pauperise Hungary, then catholicise it, then Germanise it. 44,000 of the 60,000 soldiers which constituted the Imperial army were quartered in Hungary, which the military commissioners in charge of them bled white for their maintenance.

The Protestants were harried unmercifully. In 1690 a Commission, called the Neoacquistica Commissio, was set up to check title-deeds in the reconquered territories. Even where the heirs at law of the former owners were able to establish their titles, they were required to pay a heavy indemnity for reinstatement. Where they could not pay this, or in the more frequent cases where a claim was disallowed, or no claimant came forward, the Crown disposed of the land as it would. A few estates were purchased by Hungarians, notably the Esterházys, but more were sold to foreign buyers, or given to Imperial generals in arrear of pay. The Cumanian-Jazygian Free Districts were sold to the Teutonic Order and their populations reduced to villein status. The Crown at first treated the whole of south Hungary simply as territory conquered from the Turks. The Military Frontier was extended to run the whole length of the Turkish frontier, as far as Transylvania, the new areas, like the old, being organised in military Districts under the Hofkriegsrat. The hinterland was afterwards restored to the counties for administrative purposes, but the Crown kept almost all the land in them for itself.

It was especially on these neoacquistica lands that the process, to which we shall return later, of colonising the soil of Hungary with non-Magyars, was initiated even before the Turks were fairly out of the country. This began, indeed, almost fortuitously with the arrival of sundry small bands of refugees from the Balkans, who were established more or less provisionally in Hungary, and by far the most important immigration of the time was not originally meant to be permanent: in 1690, when the Austrian armies evacuated Serbia, they were accompanied by a big body of Serbs, usually estimated at 40,000 fighting men, or 200,000 souls in all, under the Patriarch of Ipek, Arsen Crnojevic. They were settled provisionally near the southern frontier, and were to have returned to Serbia when it was reconquered, but after the Peace of Karlowitz were of necessity allowed to remain in the country. They were promised free exercise of their religion and the right to elect their own archbishop and Voivode. Most of them were now settled in the Military Frontier, but considerable numbers outside, although usually adjacent, to it, notably in the angle between the Drava and the Sava.

Transylvania was treated only a little less ruthlessly. In 1687 Leopold agreed with Apafi, the ruling prince, to recognise his title, subject to recognition of himself as suzerain. Apafi's son was to succeed him, and when he in his turn died, the Transylvanians were to recover their right of electing their own prince. Leopold promised to respect the Transylvanian Constitution. When Apafi died in 1690, Thököly, with Turkish support, defeated the local Austrian garrisons and in an effort to save the situation, Leopold issued a diploma guaranteeing the autonomy and rights of the Principality, but he refused to sanction the succession of the young Apafi and ruled Transylvania through his own governors.

It is arguable that the Kollonics era was more dangerous to Hungary's national existence than any she had previously experienced, but the excess of the evil ended by bringing its own remedy. It evoked from the first much resistance, especially in the north-east, which lay a little outside the effective reach of the Imperial arm, and became the refuge of every kind of political revolutionary: persecuted Protestants, nobles ruined by the neoacquistica, disbanded soldiers, masterless hayduks. Here spontaneous rebellion, the un-organised protest of poor men against their oppressors, broke out in 1697 and was renewed year after year. Then, looking for a leader, the rebels fixed their eyes on Ferenc Rákóczi II, grandson of György Rákóczi II and of Péter Zrinyi, and stepson of Thököly.

Leopold had not confiscated the young man's estates, which were the biggest in that part of Hungary, but after having him educated by Jesuits in Bohemia, and then attached to his own court, had allowed him to go home. A gentle and unassuming soul, Rákóczi was one of the most reluctant rebels in history. He drifted into the role mainly out of pity for his wretched fellow-countrymen and did not finally yield to persuasion until Leopold had had him imprisoned and friends had contrived his escape and smuggled him into Poland. Now he could no longer resist the appeals, and in June 1703 he entered Hungary, calling on all who would to follow him.

The moment was favourable, for war had just broken out again between the Empire and France, and Hungary had been almost devoided of its garrisons. There was, moreover, hope of help from France and Poland. Soon the greater part of Hungary had joined the new leader and the last great rebellion which the country was to know for 150 years was in full swing.

The Rákóczi rebellion is that on which later Hungarian historians have looked back with more romantic pride than on any other in their history. Its national and popular character (in it the nation was united, and class distinction sunk, as never before or since) and the noble and unselfish character of its young leader have lent its memory a peculiar charm. In fact, any hope that it would end in giving Hungary back its full independence vanished on the day when Marlborough's victory at Blenheim destroyed the vision of 'French and Hungarian soldiers meeting in the streets of Vienna'. For the rest of its seven-year course it was simply an increasingly forlorn struggle against growing odds. It brought with it more destruction, more depopulation (aggravated by a terrible outbreak of plague) and, towards its end, more disunion among the Hungarians themselves. And when at last peace was signed at Szatmár on 30 April 1711, the terms, which had been negotiated between the commander of the Hungarian troops on the Imperial side, Count János Pálffy, and Rákóczi's lieutenant, Count Sándor Károlyi, were less favourable than the court had offered five years earlier. On paper, brought no immediate improvement at all, simply confirming the constitutional and religious position as defined in 1687-8, with the addition that the king promised to convoke a Diet at which any complaints could be voiced, and offered an amnesty to anyone, including Rákóczi himself, who took an oath of loyalty to the Crown within three weeks.

Nevertheless, the bloodshed had not been in vain. Since the revolt had started, Leopold had died, and with Joseph I, still more with his brother Charles, in whose name the peace was actually concluded (Joseph having died on the eve of it), new men and new ideas had come to reign in Vienna. Charles had none of his father's antagonism towards the Hungarians: he was convinced that 'it was very important that quiet should prevail in Hungary' and that 'the Hungarians must be relieved of the belief that they are under German domination'. He was honestly prepared to treat the nation generously, and the Hungarians, on their side, were sick of the vain struggle and more than ready to accept the terms - which, indeed, were generous enough in the situation. Practically all of them except Rákóczi himself and a few members of his immediate entourage accepted the amnesty, and the Diet which met next year at Pozsony did so in a spirit of general good will. The most difficult parties to the negotiations were, indeed, the Hungarian labanc(2) nobles, whom the amnesty deprived of the hope of further enriching themselves at the expense of their fellow-countrymen. Charles again swore to respect the national rights and liberties and promised solemnly to rule Hungary only in accordance with her own laws, existmg or as legally enacted in the future, and not 'according to the pattern of other provinces'.

The remaining details took several years to work out, partly because the whole problem of Charles' relationship with his subjects now became inextricably involved with his endeavours to secure for his daughter, Maria Theresa, the undivided succession to his dominions, and Hungary's law did not yet bind the nation to accept the succession in the female line. Ultimately, however, the 1723 Diet agreed to this (with the reservation that the wearer of the Holy Crown must be legitimate, roman catholic, and an archduke or archduchess), and made the fundamental concession that so long as this link with the Habsburgs' other dominions existed, Hungary would regard herself as thereby united with them 'indivisibly and inseparably', this union being valid 'for all events and also against external enemies . Only if the line became entirely extinct did the nation recover its right to elect its monarch, and the automatic connection with 'Austria' come to an end.

Charles swore again, in his own name and that of his successors, not to rule Hungary 'after the pattern of other provinces' but only in accordance with its own laws, existing or to be agreed between king and nation at future Diets, which were to meet every three years. He would defend the integrity of the country, and not incorporate any part of it in his other dominions.

Of the accompanying agreements, the most important was that which regulated anew the long-standing problem of defence by providing for the creation, as supplement to the noble levée, of a standing army, to be composed as to one-third by Hungarians, recruited by 'voluntary enlistment', and two-thirds by foreigners. It was to be stationed in Hungary, and Hungary agreed to pay for its upkeep by a tax the amount of which had to be agreed with each Diet. The army was to be under the control of the Hofkriegsrat, but Hungary was promised that she would now be given representation on that body.

The Consilium Locumtenentiale was now reorganised and recognised as the top-level administrative organisation. It was to sit in Pozsony, under the presidency of the Palatine, who was to be assisted by twenty-two councillors appointed by the king from among the prelates and the higher and lower nobility. The independence of this body, and of that of the Hungarian court chancellery and camera, of any non-Hungarian office, were confirmed.

1. There was a curious counterpart to this in that many of the villages on the Turkish side of the frontier, down to the line Pécs-Baja-Szeged, continued during most of the occupation to pay a proportion of their old taxes, tithes and rents to the representatives of the former recipients. These were usually collected by agents of the Hungarian frontier fortress commanders, who retained the money as part of their pay, setting it off against the sums due to them from the county authorities. The existence of these cross-payments was recognised by both states, and sometimes actually found mention in peace treaties. In allowing them, the Turks also recognised the existence of a sort of shadow county organisation on their territory, and permitted it a certain voice in their subjects' internal administration.

2. A word meaning literally 'foot-soldier', which had come to be used for the pro-Habsburg party, as contrasted with the 'easterner' kuruc party.


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