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Queen Jadwiga's Knights



No. 2, April 2005


Dr. Eniku Csukovits


The Árpád dynasty became extinct with Andrew III’s death on the male line. The female line continued and first the Angevine-s from Naples 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 Pope.

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. In Croatia 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 became nominal.

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 principality.

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 attacked Austria 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 Florentine model.

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 became Hungary’s feudal tenure only for a very short time, later it fell under Polish influence.

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 poisoned.

A civil war broke out in the country. Slavonia, Croatia and Bosnia 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 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 both lines.

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 of Bosnia 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 was Poland’s 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 year.

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.


Copyright The Queen Jadwiga Foundation


The Queen Jadwiga Foundation

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