25 November 1556 The Diet of Transylvania made Isabella Governor
It was the day when the Diet of Transylvania made Isabella Governor of Transylvania until her son, János Zsigmond would reach the age of maturity. We know that Queen Isabella was the widow of King Szapolyai János of Hungary, and Sultan Suleiman made her leave Buda castle in 1541. Suleiman learned that Isabella wanted to cede Buda castle to the Habsburgs so he could not trust her anymore. You can read my short dramatized writing about the circumstances of that event:
After this, she left for East Hungary, and then, she made her court in Transylvania. Her late father’s advisor, Father Martinuzzi György, the “White Monk” was the tutor of her son, the baby János Zsigmond (later elected King of Hungary, and Prince of Transylvania). He, a nobleman, a statesman, a Pauline monk, later Bishop of Várad, Archbishop of Esztergom, and finally Cardinal, had lots of debates with Queen Isabella. Both Isabella and Martinuzzi were very exciting and colorful examples of Hungarian history, no wonder they are quite dividing figures. You can get to know more about Martinuzzi’s life here:
The White Monk was busy balancing the power between the Austrians and the Ottomans. Finally, King Habsburg Ferdinand and Martinuzzi signed a treaty in 1549 in Nyírbátor, in the eagle nest of the Báthory Clan. It was almost the same as the previous Treaty of Gyalu. According to it, in exchange for Ferdinand’s military help, Queen Isabella and King János Zsigmond would resign from their titles and the Habsburgs would receive Transylvania. Let us remark, Queen Isabella knew nothing of this, she was having a good time in Déva castle. When she received the news, she got very angry. Of course, Isabella did not agree with the agreement and betrayed the secret treaty to the Sublime Porte.
In the summer of 1550, a civil war broke out in Transylvania. So far, the monk had brilliantly balanced between the two powers, the Ottomans and the Habsburgs but finally, it led to his fall. In the meantime, the Turks were watching with dismay how Eastern Hungary was getting stronger. The next war with the Ottomans broke out also in 1550 when they came in force to widen further their occupied territories. The Sultan sent his Chaus (officer) to Transylvania in the spring of 1550 who demanded that the noble Estates should leave Martinuzzi and obey only Queen Isabella and her son. The followers of the Queen began to plot with Petrovics Péter, the Hungarian Székelys began their riot, and Queen Isabella gathered soldiers and took herself into the castle of Gyulafehérvár.
The White Monk had to react fast, first, he executed the leaders of the Székely rebels and put the uprising down. At that time, Petrovics Péter set out from the Temesköz region with his army and got into Transylvania. He took Csanád, Déva, Vízakna, and Alvinc. Pasha Kászim of Buda also came to Lippa castle with his troops, he was there on 22 October. Martinuzzi had to fight against multiple foes at the same time. The Ottomans made Ilie II Rareș, Voivode of Moldavia, and the Wallachian Voivode attack Transylvania to punish him.
The Wallachians (Romanians) attacked the Székely Land on 2 November, and the Moldavians were at the Vöröstorony Pass of the Carpathian Mountains. but the White Monk led an army against them and defeated the attackers. Then, his troops also defeated the army of Comes Petrovics Péter of Temes who was supporting Queen Isabella. Martinuzzi had a strong army and besieged Gyulafehérvár but the town defended itself bravely for six weeks. At the end of October, the Queen surrendered and “gave pardon” to the White Monk, and became his friend again. You can read more about this here:
When their troops withdrew from there, the army of the White Monk, joined by the soldiers of Nádasdy, Castaldo, and Pallavichi Sforza hurried to Lippa and besieged it. Soon, they forced Bey Ulema to surrender but the Prior promised the Turkish garrison of Lippa Castle safe conduct. Actually, the events of this siege led to the fall of Martinuzzi. King Ferdinand betrayed him and ordered his assassination. When Castaldo saw the Turks march away undisturbed on 28 November, he got very surprised and began to accuse the Prior of treason. He wrote a letter to King Ferdinand and to Emperor Charles V and reported Martinuzzi as a traitor. Brother György was indeed negotiating with several Ottoman Pashas of Southern Hungary because he wanted to gain some time. Due to this, Castaldo was able to convince Ferdinand who gave the order to have the monk (by this time he was a cardinal) assassinated. However, the mercenary leaders had to have Ferdinand’s approval sooner than that.
Castaldo hired the secretariat of the monk, Marco Aurelio Ferrari for the crime. The White Monk was killed in his palace in Alvinc on the night of 16- 17 December 1551. Martinuzzi had his bodyguards removed because he thought it was a sign of peace and he was waiting for the men of Ferdinand like this, guessing nothing. The assassins of General Sforza-Pallavicini came to help Marco Aurelio Ferrari. They, Lorenzo Campeggi, Giovanni Munino, Mercada, Scramuccia, and two Spanish soldiers killed the 69 years old priest with two shots of musket and with 75 stabs. After dishonoring his corpse, the body was left unburied there for 70 days. The mercenaries cut off his hairy ear and sent it to Ferdinand as proof. When Queen Isabella heard of the murder, first she rejoiced, then she allegedly mourned him. Transylvania fell temporarily into the hands of the Habsburgs.
It would be thrilling to read a historical novel about her life.
Source: partly from Szibler Gábor
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