2, April 2005
THE AGE OF THE ANGEVINE DYNASTY AND THE
AGE OF SIGISMUND
Dr. Eniku Csukovits
dynasty became extinct with Andrew III’s death on
the male line. The female line continued and first the Angevine-s
laid their claim for the Hungarian crown. They did not even accept Andrew III’s right to inherit the throne. In August 1300 the
twelve-year old Caroberto landed in Spalato, Dalmatia. He
was Stephen V’s grand-grandson through the relation to his father’s
grandmother, Maria. In the country only a very few people supported him:
the Subics-s, Ugrin
from the Csák clan, and the Archbishop of Esztergom, Gergely Bicskei, who was loyal to the Pope. His foreign
supporters were more influential: the feudal lord of the kingdom
of Naples, the Pope
gave him diplomatic help, whereas his cousins on his mother’s side, the Habsburg
princes gave him military help as well.
When the news about Andrew III’s death spread, the archbishop had Caroberto taken to Esztergom
in the spring of 1301, and crowed him with a temporary crown. The king, who
used the name Charles [Károly] from that time on,
counted the years of his reign from this very year. After this coup-like
coronation he retired to his southern supporters. The majority of the
dignitaries in the country chose another king from the Premysl-dynasty:
Wenceslas, the Czech king, Wenceslas II’s son,
who was one year younger than Charles. He was Béla
IV’s grand-grand-grandson on his
grand-grandmother, Anna’s side. After the coronation he ruled under the
name Ladislaus. Pope Bonifac
VIII minister to Hungary
made part of Wenceslas’s followers support
Charles instead, who seiged Buda in 1302
unsuccessfully. The people of Buda, who were the followers of Wenceslas -
they were under church interdiction - made their priest excommunicate the
In the debate between the two
kings, Pope Bonifac VIII, as a church judge,
adjudicated the kingdom to Charles, and banned Wenceslas from bearing the
title “Hungarian king”. He ordered that Wenceslas II’s
son be taken home to the Czech state together with the crown jewels.
Charles I’s Hungarian and Cumanian
troops - allied with Austrian and German troops - started a military
campaign against him, without any success. Wenceslas, who became a Czech
king after his father’s death, gave up the title “Hungarian king” in 1305,
and ceded it - together with the crown - to the Bavarian ruler, Otto.
Prince Otto from the Wittelsbach dynasty - on his mother, Elisabeth’s side
he was Béla IV’s
grandson - was 44 years old in 1305, in contrast to the teenager Charles
and Wenceslas. Only the leaders of provinces and the Transylvanian Saxons
supported him; the bishops acknowledged Charles. As the bishop of Veszprém and Csanád crowned
him with the Holy Crown brought from the Czech state, the opposing sides
signed a one-year long armistice. His reign ended in the summer of 1307,
when voivode Ladislaus Kán captured him in Transylvania
and took the Holy Crown away from him. After a short time in prison he
returned to Lower-Bavaria through Russia,
where he bore the title “Hungarian king” till his death.
The supporters of Charles
took over Buda with the help of a trick, so the middle of the country fell
into the hands of the king from the Angevine
dynasty. In October 1307, at the gathering held in the field of Rákos, greater part of the leaders of provinces, the
prelates and common noblemen declared Charles as Hungarian king. Cardinal Gentilis, the Pope’s minister came to Hungary
in 1308. To make Charles’s reign acknowledged, first he sought for
agreement, and when he did not succeed, he resorted to excommunication.
Since the legal crown for the coronation, the Holy Crown, was in Ladislaus Kán’s possession,
Charles was crowned king once again in 1309 with a crown consecrated by the
cardinal. When the Holy Crown was regained, Charles was crowned for the
third time - and finally - in 1310.
The cardinals activity was
quite unsuccessful; Charles’s reign extended only over the middle part of
the country. The honorary titles were born by the leaders of the provinces,
and royal power depended on them. The war broke out first because of the
most powerful of them, Máté Csák,
but the main region of war became the north-east of the country. The leader
of this region was Palatine Amádé Aba - who wanted to take over the town of Kassa as well - who was murdered
in 1311 by the people of Kassa. In the next year
the debate of Amádé’s sons, supported by Máté Csák, and the town
dissolved into open war.The battle fought at Rozgony, near Kassa, was won
by the royal army.
The power of the leaders of
provinces was based on their private possessions, but it was exceded over by the honours
they obtained - national offices and county bailiff offices - and the
influence and income of these honours. They took
over the royal possessions on their territories, and juristic power was
also in their hands. Noblemen in the neighbourhood
served them as familiares. They wore their honours even after the king had appointed someone else
to that post. The majority of them originated from an old dignitary clan,
but power was exercised by their close family. It was quite general that
within a clan the members supported opposing sides.
The majority of the leaders
of provinces refused to take part in a military campaign against Máté Csák. Charles declared
them disloyal and deprived them of their honorary titles, and appointed his
followers to their positions. In 1315 he transfered
his residence from Buda to the safer Temesvár. He
directed the long war against the leaders of provinces from here. He took
revenge on them one by one, as the rebels rarely united. His method was to
take over the fortresses of the enemy first, then make his followers
surrender and then he took away their possessions and appointed another
person to the position of the rebel. Open battles were hardly ever seen.
The most important year was
1317, when royal armies fought at different places at the same time. The
rebellious forces were the strongest in Transylvania,
but battles were ended in 1321 there, too. In the very same year Máté Csák died, against whom
the king could not be really successful. But this year he could conquer his
province in a few months. He could also manage to maintain order
temporarily in Slavonia and Dalmatia, and deprive the Subicses
of their power in Croatia.
In 1323 the country reunited. The king moved back to the middle of the
country and set up his court at Visegrád.
The new system of government
was strictly centralised. All the matters of the
country were settled in the royal court. The court consisted of barons and
noblemen who did not bear any honorary titles then, but they were involved
in political decisions. By the end of Charles’ reign cases of actions for
possession were arranged only at central courts, at the High Court of
Justice, at the so-called ‘eighth law-courts’ or at general meetings held
for several counties.
Charles convoked the
parliament only in the first period of his reign, after that he made
important political decisions in the royal council, that is with the help
of the prelates and barons. He reformed the chancellery and finance in
small steps. The office ‘royal treasurer’ appeared first in Hungary
then. In contrast to western countries the Hungarian
Kingdom could be characterised by the dominance of royal power, so in
his reforms, Charles could refer to his predecessors. The Angevines considered themselves the descendants of the Árpáds and this was expressed in the use of their
coat-of-arms. The bigger part of the territory of the country was in the
king’s possession, his followers could receive those as gifts (honour) for their services.
The dominance of royal estates
was typical throughout the Angevine age. The
majority of mines and cities also belonged to the king or queen. Charles
and Louis the Great were quite mean, they did not give inheritable land
gifts very often. The bearers of offices - except for the Drugets from Naples
- were families of Hungarian origin, the majority of them descended
from the members of old clans.
Charles’s reforms - such as the power of life and death and the system of ingeriting by female relatives, then during Louis the
Great the introduction of the new gift -were in favour
of the loyal court nobility. Charles asserted his absolute power even
against his first followers, the bishops. He appointed them, sometimes even
in their predecessors’ life.
Charles took back the ban
district of Macsó from the Serbian ruler during
the war to unite the country. The ban directing that district had power
over other Hungarian counties. Further efforts to expand the terrritory of the country failed owing to the
strengthening Serbian power. Bosnia,
as before, existed as an independent country, though it depended on Hungary.
people did not manage to restore royal power, even after dethroning the Subiches. Venice
had strengthened its power over the Dalmatian cities, the power of
Hungarian kings over Zára, Sebenico,
Trau, Spalato and Nona
Hungarian kings - as kings of
Cumania - laid their claims for reign over Wallachia
[Havasalföld]. By this time the population there
was almost completely Rumanian, and they lived in an independent
principality formed by leader Basarab - who was
of Cumanian origin - with Bulgarian support. In
the autunm of 1330 Charles personally led a
campaign to surrender the country. The returning Hungarian army might have
been captured in the “Redtower pass”, the
majority of soldiers died there, even the king himself just managed to
escape. Charles did not launch any more attacks against Wallachia,
and this battle contributed to the consolidation of the independent
Foreign policy became more
active after these domestic conflicts and it also changed direction. At the
beginning of the 14th century good relationship with the Habsbugs ended due to the fights to take back Pozsony and Muraköz [region
of the river Mura] - which fell into Austrian hands. Hungarian troops
several times, but the Austrian princes supported the people of Kôszeg, who last rebelled in the 1330s.
Polish-Hungarian relationships were the best. In 1320 Charles married the
Polish king’s (Ulaszló Lokietek)
daughter, Elisabeth. He gave military help to his father-in-law many times
against the German order of Knighthood, Lithuania
and the Czech state. As a result of the new foreign policy relationship
with the Czechs slowly improved, where the last Poemysls,
then the Luxemburg dynasty laid their claims for the Polish throne.
According to Angevine order of succession Charles should have
received the right for the throne of Naples.
However, because of his young age and his affairs in Hungary,
his uncle, Robert the Wise, became king of Sicily
- actually king of Naples.
Since Robert’s only son died in his father’s life and left two daughters,
Charles renewed his claims for the throne for his son. Neither the Papal
court nor Naples
supported the idea of unifying Hungarian-Neapolitan powers. In 1333 Charles
brought his second son, the six-year old Andrew, to Naples
personally. He was engaged to Johanna, Robert’s eldest granddaughter.
Although Charles did not manage to make his son king, he believed that
after Robert’s death Andrew will ascend the throne, as there was no
tradition of female rulers.
In 1335 there was a
successful mediation between the John, the Czech king, and Kazmer, the Polish king, which was confirmed at the
royal meeting held at Visegrád in November. John
gave up his claim for the Polish throne. As judges in the debate between Poland
and the German order of Knighthood, the Hungarian and Czech kings
adjudicated Kujavia and other regions to the
Poles, and Pomerania to the Germans. But
in the case of Silesia
the Czechs and the Poles did not reach an agreement. Before this a
Czech-Hungarian economic agreement was signed at Trencsén,
which tried to assert that the German-Hungarian trade route should lead
through the Czech state, ignoring the staple right of Vienna.
In 1339 Kazmer made a will: in the event that he
did not have a male descendant, one of Charles’s sons be Polish king.
Before these events, in the
spring of 1330 one of the king’s men in his court, the landowner in Nógrád county, Felician Záh, made a murderous attempt against the royal family
in the Visegrád castle, as supposedly the Queen’s
younger brother seduced his daughter, Clara with the Queen’s approval.
Charles suffered smaller injuries, but Queen Elisabeth lost her four
fingers. Záh was immediately killed, and members
of his clan were executed. This procedure, which reminds us of Neapolitan
blood feud, was against the Hungarian law, so the events contributed to the
general opinion which regarded the reign of the first Angevine
ruler less effective than that of Louis the Great.
After his death, Charles was
followed on the throne by his 16-year old son, Louis the Great. Besides him
- almost as a co-ruler - his mother, Elisabeth, intervened in everything.
When he was away he asked her to perform the governor’s duties. Louis liked
warfare - he came close to losing his life in several battles -,
tournaments and hunts. Similarly to his mother he was deeply religious. He
was a great admirer of St Ladislaus, he minted
his portrait to his golden forints instead of the coins with St
John’s portrait minted by Charles after the
Robert the Wise, who died in
1343, appointed his daughter, Johanna, as his heir in his testament. When
the Pope approved of crowning Andrew as Sicilian king after a long hesitation,
the followers of Johanna killed the prince with the Queen’s knowledge.
Although the murderers were executed, Louis’s attempt to ask the Pope to
dethrone Johanna, was unsuccessful, as the Pope did not want the Angevines’ Hungarian and Neapolitan lines to unite. The
father of the Hungarian king - referring back to his one-time claim for the
throne - considered himself the legal heir of the Neapolitan throne.
According to the new order of succession, however, after Johanna’s
withdrawal another Angevine, Charles - prince of Durazzo - would have had the right for the throne.
In 1347 Louis lead a campaign
personally against Naples.
His Hungarian and German mercenaries met only slight resistance. Queen
Johanna escaped to her ancient French estates to recruit people for her
troops. Louis captured the princes, who came to admire him, and he had his
rival, Charles executed. At the beginning of 1348 he marched into Naples
and took up the title “king of Sicily and Jerusalem”.
Because of the discontent after the execution and the plague he returned
home after some months. The troops left behind could not keep the conquested regions, Johanna - on her new husband’s side
- soon took back her country with the exception of some fortresses.
In 1349 the plague reached Hungary,
and the Queen - Louis’s first wife - died in pestilence, too. In 1350 the
royal Hungarian army started its second campaign against Naples.
They took over the capital, but they did not manage to confirm Hungarian
rule this time either. Louis the Great gave up his claims for the throne of
Sicily and Jerusalem
and signed a ceasefire with Johanna. The majority of the royal army
returned to Hungary, but
Hungarian knights, as members of the “great Hungarian army”, had still been
fighting in Italy
for years. Miklós Toldi
was among them.
Louis the Great reinforced
the centralised government set up by his father.
He was forced to make concessions only once, after the unsuccessful
Neapolitan wars and the plague. In November 1351 - for the first time
during his reign - he convoked the diet in Buda. He reinforced the Golden
Bull, which was considered the basic law of noble rights in that form the 15th century on. At a place, however,
he changed Andrew II’s order: he repealed the
right of noblemen dying without heirs to make a free will and extended the anticity to them, that is, property without a legal
heir be turned to the king.
The 1352 law declared the
idea of “one and the same freedom” of noblemen living within the borders of
the country. This meant exemption from all kinds of taxation and services -
so with this law he exempted the noblemen of Slavonia,
Pozsega and Valkó from
paying taxes. He limited the declaration of church interdictions against
noblemen who carried on a lawsuit against churches. He regulated the
collection of tax called “the profit of the chancellery”, ordered to repeal
the collection of unlawful customs duties, decided on various lawsuit
matters. He ordered the collection of the ninth, and he promised to perform
this on the king’s and the queen’s estates, too.
Louis the Great did not want
to share his power with the diet permanently. He convoked the noblemen once
again in 1352, but never more. The influence of the noblemen expanded only
to their county. Counties did not have a either a permanent armed force or
other authority than the sedria. We cannot even
talk about local goverments in the counties. To
judge local criminals and administration of justice in case of noblemen who
could not visit the royal High Court of Justice was the duty of other
office bearers - according to the order of the palatine and the king -, who
held public meetings for several counties from time to time.
In the 70s there were several
changes in the government, aiming at an even more powerful centralisation of power. The chancellery was divided
into two parts, the secret chancellery was established with the lead of the
secret chancellor. The head of the former chancellery got the title
“supreme chancellor”. The third department of the High Court of Justice was
set up, too: besides the law court of the palatine and the court of royal
presence headed by the supreme judge, the court of special royal presence
was formed, headed by the supreme chancellor. The royal treasurer was not a
financial office bearer any more, he became the judge of appeal cases of
royal towns. His financial duties were taken over by the independent
treasure keeper from that time on.
Louis the Great restored
royal power in Croatia
at the beginning of his reign. He made Dalmatian towns surrender during his
Venetian campaign started in 1356 in alliance with Padua.
In the 1358 peace of Zára the doge-s gave up
their titles “Prince of Croatia and Dalmatia”,
which they had been bearing for centuries. Hungary
had supremacy from Ragusa
- conquered at that time - to as far as Quarnero.
This was reinforced by the 1381 peace of Torino,
after another war. In Bosnia
he entered a war because of Bogumilian paganism,
after his loyal father-in-law’s death.
After the death of István Dusán, who was crowned
tsar in 1346, Serbia
fell to pieces. The northern part of the country fell into the hands of the
Hungarians, South Serbia fell under Osmanian-Turkish rule after the battle near the river Marica (1371). In Wallachia
the successor of Basarab surrendered to the
Hungarian king - in return he received Syrmia.
The Rumanian principality, however, remained practically independent. In
the 70s border fortresses were built against the unreliable neighbours: Törcsvár and Tolmács; Orsova was
renovated. In 1375 the Hungarian troops fought against the Osmans - who were the allies of the Rumanians - for the
first time. During Louis the Great’s life there
was no Turkish attack on Hungary.
The northern part of Bulgaria
- which was divided into two regions at that time -, the territory of the
tsar of Vidin,
fell under the rule of Hungarian bans for a short time, then it became a
feudal tenure. Beyond the eastern border the Hungarian army defeated the
attacking Tartars. After the retreat of the Golden Horde, Bogdán, voivode of Máramaros, founded the second Rumanian principlaity around 1359. It was called Moldavia.
Louis the Great led several military campaigns here, but Moldavia
feudal tenure only for a very short time, later it fell under Polish
Polish king, Casimir the Great, died in 1370. According to the
agreement of 1339 Louis the Great -
who helped the Polish in several campaigns against Lithuanis
earlier - followed him on the throne. The Polish-Hungarian personal union
was quite unsuccessful. The king left the governing of the country to his
mother, but there was a riot in Krakow
against Elisabeth’s violent rule, and the Queen was forced to return home.
Her successor, Wladislaus,
Prince of Opole, was also unsuccessful as a ruler. Louis the Great governed
Halics - taken over from the Lithuanians - from Hungary,
he appointed Hungarians to the lead of local fortressess.
The “Great Privilege” - which
played an important role in Polish social development - was issued in 1374
in Kassa. With this document the Polish ruler
made his people recognise the right of his
daughters for the throne. Louis the Great wanted his elder daughter, Maria,
and her fiancée, Sigismund, to ascend the throne after his death. Johanna -
who supported the Pope of Avignon after the division of the western church
- was dethroned by the Pope of Rome in 1380. He offered the throne for
Young Charles, who was educated at the Hungarian royal court. Young
Charles, who was supported by Hungarian troops, easily defeated Naples
in 1381, and had Johanna murdered in 1382.
At the end of his reign Louis
the Great became infected with leprosy, he retreated from public life and
lived a religious life. His followers accepted succession on the female
line, but the legal theory of secular people was against the rule of
queens. According to it the suitability of kings depended on their military
skills. After the King’s death, his 11-year old daughter, Maria, was
crowned at Székesfehérvár. The country was
governed by her mother, Elisabeth, and palatine Nicholas Garai instead of her. The Polish would have accepted
Maria and Sigismund, on the condition that the ruler should live in Poland.
After a long hesitation the
Queen-mother sent her younger daughter, Jadwiga, to Poland.
She was crowned in 1384, so the possibility of renewing the personal union
came to an end. Two years later Jadwiga was married to the Lithuanian Chief
Prince, Jagello, who accepted Christianity not
long before. In Hungary
there was great dissatisfaction with Elisabeth, who called herself queen.
The Queen-mother and her followers, with the lead of Palatine Nicholas Garai, wanted Maria to marry Louis, Prince of Orleans.
The majority of the barons insisted on Sigismund, the Horváti
brothers - who had a great influence on common noblemen - wanted a male king
and offered Young Charles the Hungarian throne.
Young Charles landed in Dalmatia
in September, 1385. Maria and Elisabeth, who were afraid of losing their
leading position, now accepted Sigismund, and held the wedding, but the
husband escaped when he heard the news about the arrival of the usurper. A
diet was convoked in Buda, which elected Young Charles king and made Maria
give up her position. The reign of the new king lasted for 39 days.
Elisabeth’s followers attacked him in Buda castle in 1386, he was taken to Visegrád with serious injuries, where he was probably
A civil war broke out in the
country. Slavonia, Croatia
fell into the hands of the rebels. In 1386 the queens, who went to the
south to soothe the problems, were attacked by the Horváti-s
as they reached the town Gara. Garai and his company were killed, the women were
captured, and Elisabeth was strangled in prison in the following year. Horváti, insisting on legal succession, wanted Young
Charles’s infant son, Ladislaus of Naples, to be
king. The barons took the positions to govern the country, they even had a
new signet made with the writing “signet of the people of the country” on
it. There was no representation of the estates, no diets were convoked,
Louis’s one-time barons considered themselves representatives of the people
of the country.
THE AGE OF SIGISMUND
The noblemen, who joined the
league, accepted Sigismund to their company. Sigismund made a promise in
his letter of alliance that he would keep the old traditions of the
country, govern the country in concert with the interests of the league,
and would not give offices and land gifts to foreigners. He was crowned in
1387. His reign was based on election and not on succession. After her
wife’s escape, he became a formal co-ruler, actually his wife governed the
country. He managed to suppress the southern rebels only after a long
battle. In 1395 Queen Maria died, so the clan of saint kings died out on
Sigismund’s reign till 1403
was overshadowed by the influence of the league - though it was gradually
decreasing. The leaders of the league were János Kanizsai, Archbishop of Esztergom,
the supreme chancellor and the palatine of the first years, Stephen Lackfi. The other members also originated from Louis
the Great’s one-time baron families. They
received enormous land gifts between 1387-92 as a result of which royal
land possessions, which dominated over private land possessions since the
beginning of the age of the Árpád dynasty, were
now in minority against private land possessions, especially secular
estates. Half of the royal castles with the surrounding lands, and also
cities or smaller estates were given away during a couple of years.
After the 1389 battle of Rigómezô the neighbouring
states of the Balkans gradually surrendered to the Osmans.
The Turks often broke into the region of river Temes
and Syrmia. At first Sigismund tried to attack
them. In 1396, as a result of long diplomatic preparatory works, he
declared his campaign against the Turks a crusade and left for the Balkans
with a cavalry composed of European people of different nationalities. The
traditional courtly warfare seemed to be unsuitable against the Turks. The
Turkish army, led by sultan Bajezid, destroyed
the Christian troops on 28 September at Nicapole, Bulgaria.
Since 1396 Hungary
made arrangements for defence. The means of this
policy were the neighbouring states of the
Balkans till the 1420s, which were made Hungary’s
vassals by Sigismund. Turkish attacks were impeded on the territory of
these countries. He appointed Mircea cel Bútrin to the lead of
Wallachia in 1395, who also received estates and castles in South
Transylvania. In Serbia Stephen Lazarevics,
who submitted to the Turks, accepted Sigismund as his king in 1403. The surrender
was a rather more difficult task, as there was no firm central power. The
real ruler of the country, Hervoja, surrendered
to him only after several campaigns, in 1409.
After the battle of Nicapole, Stephen Lackfi, the
one-time palatine, who was dissatisfied with Sigismund, contacted Ladislaus of Naples, who saw a favourable
occasion to obtain the Hungarian crown. The plot was discovered, the
followers of the king murdered Lackfi in 1397,
and the large estate of his family was taken away. This year a diet was
convoked at temesvár. The 1351 laws and the
Golden Bull were reinforced with a few changes, but the additional clause
about opposition was omitted.
Despite their old privilege,
noblemen were obliged to join the army - even beyond the borders - during
the Turkish threat. Those who resisted had to pay a fine. There were orders
about setting up the army of servant-soldiers: landowners had to provide an
archer after every 20 of their villeins. To cover
the costs of defence the church also had to pay
tax and their tenth was distrained as well. The
right of villeins for free moving was reinforced:
if they paid their land rents and debts, they could leave their lords
freely. The king promised to restrict inheriting by female relatives, to
take back his unfair gifts and replace foreign office bearers.
To help him repress the power
of the leage Sigismund had already found his new
followers before the battle of Nicapole. The
barons arrested the king in 1401 with the aim of removing foreigners. The
council of the prelates and baron governed the country for a few months in
the name of the Holy Crown. They issued their charters “with the signet of
the Holy Crown of Hungary”. They could not, however, agree on the question
of succession. The king was saved by Nicholas Garai
and Hermann Cilei’s action. Sigismund became
engaged to Cilei’s daughter, Borbala,
and he promised that he would not punish the participants of the plot.
In 1402 Sigismund appointed
Albert IV, Austrian prince, to the Hungarian throne in case he would die
without a legal heir. He also appointed Garai to
the post of palatine. The members of the league who felt to be cheated organised an open riot in 1403. The centers of their
operations were in Transylvania, the region beyond the river Tisza
and in the south. Common noblemen joined them in great numbers, too. Ladislaus of Naples, who arrived in Dalmatia,
was crowned with a temporary crown in Zára by Kanizsai. But Sigismund’s supporters had military
advantage, so the majority of the rebels surrendered without any fight, and
the resistance of the others was soon broken down.
After the riot Sigismund’s
power remained firm in Hungary.
His main supporters were Nicholas Garai, who was
the palatine of the country till the end of his life, and Hermann Cilei. The king was away from the country several
times, on such occasions his deputies governed the state instead of him but
with his knowledge. In 1408 he founded the Dragon Society with his wife, Borbala, and 22 of his followers. Its aim was to fight against
the pagans, that is the Turks, but in reality it was the union of the new
elite and the ruling family.
In 1410 Sigismund was chosen
German-Roman king, and in 1414 he was crowned in Aachen.
After his brother, Wenceslas’s death, in 1420 he
obtained the Czech throne as well, but he could not ascend his throne, only
at the end of his life, because his military actions against the Hussites were quite unsuccessful. After 1428 the Czechs
attacked Upper Hungary several times.
Sigismund was highly respected because of the fact that he stopped the
division of the church at the synod of Constance,
supported the church reform, and solved the question of Hussitism
diplomatically. In 1433 he was crowned German-Roman emperor in Rome.
In the question of succession
Sigismund insisted on the Habsburgs even after Albert IV’s
death. His daughter, Elisabeth, married Albert V, Austrian prince. His
relationship with the Jagellos was quite stiff:
at the beginning of his reign he was forced to gave up Halics
for their benefit and accept that Moldavia
vassal state. In 1409 Ladislaus of Naples sold
Dalmatia to Venice
for 100,000 golden Forints. By 1420 the republic occupied the whole
province, so Sigismund started all their military campaigns in vein. All of
them ended with an armistice, the Dalmatian towns got out of Hungarian
supremacy forever. In 1412 he put part of the Szepesség
in pawn to Ulaslo II, Polish king.
By the 1420s the system of
the neighbouring states used for Hungary’s
defence collapsed. Because of the unreliability
of the Bosnian dignitaries some of their fortresses were occupied by
Hungarian guards, but there was no chance to make the whole country
surrender. After Mircea’s death the chief princes
of Wallachia vacillated between Hungarian
and Turkish vassalage. The Turks attacked Slavonia from Bosnia
and Transylvania from Wallachia. Stephen Lazarevics handed over Belgrad
to Sigismund in 1427, but Galambóc fell into the
hands of the Turks. In the following year there was an unsuccessful
campaign to take back the fortress. Thus the country had common borders
with the Osman Empire.
The new system of defence consisted of a network of fortresses built in
the south at very high costs, which impeded the Turks for almost a century.
In the 30s the military sytem was reformed. The
army of the age consisted of three parts: royal troops, the troops of
dignitaries and troops of the
counties. The troops were foretold where to fight. In 1435 a significant
litigation law was accepted. The courts of special royal presence were
liquidated, the courts of personal royal presence substituted them. This
was the court of the supreme and secret chancellor, who made judgements in the king’s name.
In the spring of 1437 there
were peasants’ riots in North Transylvania, and in Szatmár,
Szabolcs and Ugocsa
counties, because in 1436 the Transylvanian bishop laid his demands for the
tithe of the previous three years in money which was introduced in the
current year - as he did not collect tithe in the previous years because of
the high inflation rates. The rebels, who gathered on Bábolna
hill, near the borough Alparét, defeated the army
of the voivode. The partied regulated villeins’ right for making testaments, the rent of the
land, the duties to perform gifts and robot, the supply of armies marching
through the region, and the sheep fiftieth tax of the Rumanians. The riot
was supressed at the beginning of the following
As a result of the change of
dynasties and natural development in legislation a new idea of political
law was in the making. The concept of the crown - which referred to the
king’s rights - was extended in the 14th century: it meant the territory of
the country, the power of the state independent of the king. The special
feature of the Hungarian doctrine of the crown was the fact that it
referred to a real object: the Holy Crown attributed to St Stephen.
International agreements were signed in the name of this, and the crown
slowly became independent of the king. It was considered the crown of the
country, and not the actual king’s crown. This time a new principle was
introduced, namely that a coronation was legal only if it was performed
with the Holy Crown at Székesfehérvár, by the
Archbishop of Esztergom, or in his absence, the
Archbishop of Kalocsa.