John Hunyadi

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Image:Iancu Hunedoara.jpg
John Hunyadi, as imagined by a 17th century artist

John Hunyadi (Medieval Latin: Ioannes Corvinus, German: Johann Hunyadi; Hungarian: Hunyadi János, Romanian: Iancu or Ioan de Hunedoara) (c. 1387August 11, 1456) was a Voivode of Transylvania (from 1441), captain-general (1444–1446) and regent (1446–1453) of the Kingdom of Hungary, with a distinguished military career. He was the father of Matthias, one of the most renowned kings of Hungary.


[edit] Names in other languages

  • Albanian: Janosh Hunjadi
  • Bulgarian: Ян (Янош) Хуниади (Yan Huniadi or Yanosh Huniadi)
  • Croatian: Ianco or (later tradition) Ivan Hunjadi
  • Greek: Ιωάννης Ουνιάδης
  • Serbian: Сибињанин Јанко (Sibinjanin Janko)
  • Slovak: Ján Huňadi
  • Turkish:Hunyadi Yanoş

[edit] Origin

John was born into a noble family in 1387 (or 1400 according to some sources) as the son of Vojk (alternatively spelled as Voyk or Vajk in English, Vajk in Hungarian, Voicu in Romanian), son of Serb, Sorb, or Serbe, a Vlach Knyaz from the Banate of Szörény (Severin). Some speculations on a possible Cuman ancestry for his mother have been made. A modern theory claims that Serb, John's grandfather, was originally from Serbia,<ref>Dr. Borovszky Samu, Magyarorszag varmegyei es varosai, Kiadta az országos monográfiai társaság, Budapest</ref> an origin not attested by contemporary sources. Serb had three sons - Vojk, John's father, Magos, and Radol.

Image:John Hunyadi - Johannes de Thurocz - Chronica Hungarorum, Brno 1488.jpg
John Hunyadi - hand-colored woodcut in Johannes de Thurocz`s Chronicle Chronica Hungarorum, Brno, 1488.

John's mother was Erzsébet Morzsinay, Elisabeta Mărgean of Cinciş, the daughter of Vlach small nobility from Hunyad - Hunedoara, who was thought to be related to the Morzsinay family. It is John's wife, Erzsébet Szilágyi, who was a Hungarian high-ranking noble – Szilágy being the name of a county, one overlapping with present-day Sălaj.

Another legend, thought to be discreetly distributed by John himself, was that he was the son of Sigismund of Luxemburg, whose faithful soldier his father was for two decades. This tale helped him secure more legitimacy for his descendants to the throne of the Kingdom, to which John, despite all his services, could not accede – having neither royal, nor Hungarian origin. Widely respected in Europe, he still gathered rivals throughout his lifetime, and was the object of the Ottoman Empire's hatred. Vlach lineage was common in many Hungarian noble families of Transylvania, but Cuman origin would have been considered a stain on one's reputation.

What is certain is that Vojk took the family name of Hunyadi when he received the estate around the Hunyad Castle from King Sigismund, in 1409. The epithet Corvinus was first used by the biographer of his son Matthias Corvinus of Hungary, but is sometimes also applied to John. Hunyadi has sometimes been confused with an elder brother John, himself a Severin Ban (the elder John died about 1440).

[edit] Rise

[edit] With Sigismund and in the disputed elections

Image:Tucrcoczy Janos Campania Iancu de hunedoara.jpg
John Hunyadi in the Hussite Campaign, as depicted in the Johannes de Thurocz Chronicle

While still a youth, the younger John Hunyadi entered the retinue of Sigismund, who appreciated his qualities; he also was the King's creditor on several occasions. He accompanied the monarch to Frankfurt, in Sigismund's quest for the Imperial crown in 1410, took part in the Hussite Wars in 1420, and in 1437 drove the Ottomans from Semendria. For these services he received numerous estates and a seat in the royal council. In 1438 King Albert II made Hunyadi Ban of Severin. Lying south of the defensible southern frontiers of Hungary, the Carpathians and the Drava/Sava/Danube complex, the province was subject to constant harassment by Ottoman forces. Upon the sudden death of Albert in 1439, Hunyadi, arguably feeling Hungary needed a warrior king, lent his support to the candidature of young King of Poland Władysław III of (1440), and thus came into collision with the powerful Ulrich III of Celje, the chief supporter of Albert's widow Elizabeth and her infant son, Ladislaus V. He took a prominent part in the ensuing civil war and was rewarded by Władysław with the captaincy of the fortress of Belgrade and the governorship of Transylvania. He shared the latter dignity with Mihály Újlaki.

[edit] First battles of the Balkans

The burden of the Ottoman War now rested with him. In 1441 he delivered Serbia by the victory of Semendria. In 1442, not far from Sibiu, on which he had been forced to retire, he annihilated an immense Ottoman presence, and recovered for Hungary the suzerainty of Wallachia. In February 1450, he signed an alliance treaty with Bogdan II of Moldavia.

In July, he vanquished a third Turkish army near the Iron Gates. These victories made Hunyadi a prominent enemy of the Ottomans and renowned throughout Christendom, and stimulated him in 1443 to undertake, along with King Władysław, the famous expedition known as the "long campaign". Hunyadi, at the head of the vanguard, crossed the Balkans through the Gate of Trajan, captured Niš, defeated three Turkish pashas, and, after taking Sofia, united with the royal army and defeated Sultan Murad II at Snaim. The impatience of the king and the severity of the winter then compelled him (February 1444) to return home, but not before he had utterly broken the Sultan's power in Bosnia, Herzegovina, Serbia, Bulgaria, and Albania.

No sooner had he regained Hungary than he received tempting offers from Pope Eugene IV, represented by the Legate Julian, Cardinal Cesarini, from Đurađ Branković, despot of Serbia, and Gjergj Kastrioti, prince of Albania, to resume the war and realize his ideal of driving the Ottomans from Europe. All the preparations had been made when Murad's envoys arrived in the royal camp at Szeged and offered a ten years' truce on advantageous terms. Branković bribed Hunyadi -he gave him his vast estates in Hungary- to support the acceptance of the peace. Cardinal Cesarini find a traitorous solution. The king swore that he would never give up the crusade, so all future peace and oath was automatically invalid. After this Hungary accepted the Sultan's offer and Hunyadi in Władysław's name swore on the Gospels to observe them.

[edit] Battle of Varna

Image:Varna 1444 Polski Kronika from 1564.jpg
The Battle of Varna, as depicted in the 1564 edition of Martin Bielski's Polish Chronicle

Two days later Cesarini received tidings that a fleet of Venetian galleys had set off for the Bosporus to prevent Murad (who, crushed by his recent disasters, had retired to Anatolia) from recrossing into Europe, and the cardinal reminded the King that he had sworn to cooperate by land if the western powers attacked the Ottomans by sea. In July the Hungarian army recrossed the frontier and advanced towards the Black Sea coast in order to march to Constantinople escorted by the galleys.

Branković, however, fearful of the sultan's vengeance in case of disaster, privately informed Murad of the advance of the Christian host, and prevented Kastrioti from joining it. On reaching Varna, the Hungarians found that the Venetian galleys had failed to prevent the transit of the Sultan, who now confronted them with four times their forces, and on November 10 1444 they were utterly routed in the Battle of Varna, Władysław falling on the field and Hunyadi narrowly escaping.

[edit] Regent of the Kingdom of Hungary

[edit] Brief personal rule

At the diet which met in February 1445 a provisional government consisting of five Captain Generals was formed, with Hunyadi receiving Transylvania and four counties bordering on the Tisza, called the Partium or Körösvidék, to rule. As the anarchy resulting from the division became unmanageable, Hunyadi was elected regent of Hungary (Regni Gubernator) on June 5 1446 in the name of Ladislaus V and given the powers of a regent. His first act as regent was to proceed against the German king Frederick III, who refused to release Ladislaus V. After ravaging Styria, Carinthia, and Carniola and threatening Vienna, Hunyadi's difficulties elsewhere compelled him to make a truce with Frederick for two years.

In 1448 he received a golden chain and the title of Prince from Pope Nicholas V, and immediately afterwards resumed the war with the Ottomans. He lost the two-day Second Battle of Kosovo (October 7-10 1448, owing to the treachery of Dan, pretender to the throne of Wallachia, and of his old rival Branković, who intercepted Hunyadi's planned Albanian reinforcements led by Gjergj Kastrioti, preventing them from ever reaching the battle. Branković also imprisoned Hunyadi for a time in the dungeons of the fortress of Smederevo, but he was ransomed by his countrymen and, after resolving his differences with his powerful and numerous political enemies in Hungary, led a punitive expedition against the Serbian prince, who was forced to accept harsh terms of peace.

In 1450 Hunyadi went to the Hungarian capital of Pozsony to negotiate with Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III the terms of the surrender of Ladislaus V, but no agreement could be reached. Several of John Hunyadi's enemies, including Ulrich III of Celje, accused him of conspiracy to overthrow the King. In order to defuse the increasingly volatile domestic situation, he relinquished his regency and the title of regent. On his return to Hungary at the beginning of 1453, Ladislaus named him count of Beszterce and Captain General of the kingdom. The king also expanded his coat-of-arms with the so-called Beszterce Lions.

[edit] Belgrade campaign and death

John's tomb in Alba Iulia Cathedral.

Meanwhile, the Ottoman issue had again become acute, and, after the fall of Constantinople in 1453, it seemed natural that Sultan Mehmed II was rallying his resources in order to subjugate Hungary. His immediate objective was Belgrade. Hunyadi arrived at the siege of Belgrade at the end of 1455, after settling differences with his domestic enemies. At his own expense, he restocked the supplies and arms of the fortress, leaving in it a strong garrison under the command of his brother-in-law Mihály Szilágyi and his own eldest son László. He proceeded to form a relief army, and assembled a fleet of two hundred ships. His main ally was the Franciscan friar, Giovanni da Capistrano, whose fiery oratory drew a large crusade made up mostly of peasants. Although relatively ill-armed (most were armed with farm equipment, such as scythes and pitchforks) they flocked to Hunyadi and his small corps of seasoned mercenaries and cavalry.

On July 14 1456 the flotilla of corvettes assembled by Hunyadi destroyed the Ottoman fleet. On July 21, Szilágyi's forces in the fortress repulsed a fierce assault by the Rumelian army, and Hunyadi pursued the retreating forces into their camp, taking advantage of the Turkish army's confused flight from the city. After fierce but brief fighting, the camp was captured, and Mehmet raised the siege and returned to Istanbul. With his flight began a 70 year period of relative peace on Hungary's southeastern border. However, plague broke out in Hunyadi's camp three weeks after the lifting of the siege, and he died August 11. He was buried inside the (Roman Catholic) Cathedral of Alba Iulia (Gyulafehérvár), next to his elder brother John.

[edit] Legacy

Image:Iancu de Hunedoara coat of arms.jpg
Personal Coat of arms – note the raven depicted on the escutcheon, the origin of the name Corvinus

The rise of nationalism has led to hero images of John Hunyadi in the discourse of several local nationalities – each in its own way has claimed him as their own. Along with his son Matthias, John has acquired a presence in modern Romania's political culture (images that focus on the Vlach origin rather their careers within Hungary or on their presence as outsiders in the politics of the Danubian Principalities, although Hunyadi was responsible for establishing the careers of both Stephen III of Moldavia and the controversial Vlad III of Wallachia). John Hunyadi is traditionally considered a national hero in Hungary and Romania.

Among John's noted qualities, is his regional primacy in recognizing the insufficiency and unreliability of the feudal levies, instead regularly employing large professional armies. His notable contribution to the development of the science of European warfare included the emphasis on tactics and strategy in place of over-reliance on frontal assaults and mêlées.

Although he remained illiterate until late in life (something not uncommon during the age he lived in), his diplomatic, strategic, and tactical skills allowed him to serve his country well. After his death, Pope Callixtus III stated that "the light of the world has passed away", considering his defense of Christendom against the Ottoman threat.

[edit] Names in other languages:

  • Albanian: Janosh Hunjadi
  • Bulgarian: Ян (Янош) Хуниади (Yan Huniadi or Yanosh Huniadi)
  • Croatian: Ianco or (later tradition) Ivan Hunjadi
  • Greek: Ιωάννης Ουνιάδης
  • Serbian: Сибињанин Јанко (Sibinjanin Janko)
  • Slovak: Ján Huňadi
  • Turkish:Hunyadi Yanoş

[edit] Notes


[edit] References

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  • This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.
  • Sources cited by the Encyclopædia Britannica:
    • R.N. Bain, "The Siege of Belgrade, 1456", in Eng. Hist. Rev., 1892.
    • Antonio Bonfini, Rerum ungaricarum libri xlv, editio septima (in Latin; ~contemporary source).
    • J. de Chassin, Jean de Hunyad, (in French), Paris, 1859.
    • György Fejér, Genus, incunabula et virtus Joannis Corvini de Hunyad (in Latin), Buda, 1844.
    • Vilmos Fraknói, Cardinal Carjaval and his Missions to Hungary, (in Hungarian), Budapest, 1889.
    • P. Frankl, Der Friede von Szegedin und die Geschichte seines Bruches (in German), Leipzig, 1904.
    • A. Pcr, Life of Hunyadi (in Hungarian), Budapest, 1873.
    • József Teleki, The Age of the Hunyadis in Hungary (in Hungarian), Pest, 1852-1857; (supplementary volumes by D. Csinki 1895).bg:Янош Хуняди

de:Johann Hunyadi el:Ουνιάδης Κορβίνος Ιωάννης eo:János Hunyadi it:János Hunyadi he:יאנוש הוניאדי hu:Hunyadi János nl:Johannes Hunyadi ja:フニャディ・ヤーノシュ pl:Jan Hunyadi ro:Ioan de Hunedoara sk:Ján Huňady fi:János Hunyadi sv:János Hunyadi

John Hunyadi

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