The Long War, Part Ten / 1594, Transylvania breaks up with the Sublime Port

The Eastern Hungarian Kingdom in 1550 that eventually became the Transylvanian Principality

While the Habsburgs and their subjects, the Hungarians of Royal Hungary were fighting their war quite alone against the Ottoman Empire and they have had rather negative results in the first two years, there was a profound change taking place in the foreign relations of the Transylvanian Principality. Transylvania used to be a firm vassal of the Ottoman Empire during the reign of King and Prince János Zsigmond and Prince Báthori István (later Polish king).

elected (not crowned) king János Zsigmond, son of King Szapolyai

We have to mention Brother György, the “White Monk” aka Martinuzzi whose firm hand was needed to lay down the foundations of the Principality while János Zsigmond was a child. The inheritance of János Zsigmond and Báthori István (also King of Poland) was taken over by the young Prince Bathori Zsigmond. He was a stout Roman Catholic and was under the influence of Father Alfonso Carillo, a Jesuit priest and he didn’t like the Sublime Port. He had already ignored Pasha Sinan’s order in 1593 when the Pasha had been calling him to join the war.

Emperor Habsburg Rudolf and the Court of the Pope agreed that the Christian League should be extended and Transylvania had to be included. The Pope used the help of Father Carillo to persuade Zsigmond to change sides. This plan was also supported by the Captain of Várad (Oradea, the gate of Transylvania) who was the uncle of the future prince, Bocskai István (Stephan). At that time, Bocskai was the military general of the new prince and nobody knew that he would finish the Long War in 1606 by rebelling against the Habsburgs.

Prince Báthori István (Stefan), king of Poland, uncle of Prince Báthori Zsigmond

Here is my previous article about King Báthori of Poland:

Geszti Ferenc, Kornis Gáspár, and Gyulaffy László (the latter was the son of the famous knight of the Valiant Order) were supporting the anti-Ottoman plot as well. At the same time, there were a few seasoned politicians like Kendi Sándor and Kovacsóczy Farkas (Wolf) who were more precautious and didn’t want to oppose the mighty Ottoman Empire. They were called the “Peace Party or Turk Party”. Their leader was the cousin of the prince, Báthori Boldizsár but according to other sources, he supported the anti-Turk war.

Báthori Boldizsár (1555-1594), was strangled on the order of Báthori Zsigmond, though he supported the Turk war

The council of the prince voted against the prince’s plan of getting allied with the Habsburgs. Prince Zsigmond was also voted down on the next Diet by the noble Estates who got frightened because of the Crimean Tatars coming to the siege of Győr Castle. There was another bad news they received: the Serbs around the Temes River area had rebelled against the Turks but they had been mercilessly put down. The Estates even armed themselves to oppose Prince Zsigmond during the summer Diet. Zsigmond pretended to give up his plans and he announced his resignation and gave the power to his cousin, Boldizsár.

Báthory’s Thaller (reverse side)

Zsigmond took himself into Kővár Castle and it was the military power of his uncle that helped him back into the power in August. Thus, the members of the Diet of Kolozsvár (Cluj, Klausenburg) were afraid for their lives and they allowed Zsigmond to retake the throne. Having done so, Zsigmond declared the breaking up with the Sublime Port. On the next day, he went back on his word and had the members of the opposition party (“Turk Party”) arrested on 28 August. They were tortured and beheaded without a trial in Kolozsvár. Kendi Gábor and Sándor, Ifjjú János, and Literátus Gergely were executed. Chancellor Kovacsóczy was killed in his sleep and Báthori Boldizsár was strangled in the dungeon of Szamosújvár Castle while Kendi Ferenc and Bornemissza János were killed in Gyalu Castle. The brothers of Boldizsár,  a nobleman called István, and Bishop András were exiled.

Prince Báthori Zsigmond of Transylvania in 1596

The “Turk Party” got frightened because of the cruel executions so the negotiations with the Habsburgs could begin. Bocskai István was the one who signed a treaty with the Austrians on behalf of the prince, during the first part of the next year in Prague. The Habsburg Emperor had promised his money and military aid to Zsigmond and their alliance was going to be sealed by a dynastic tie, too. Zsigmond was promised to be given the daughter of the Styrian Archduke Charles called Maria Christierna. Besides, they agreed that Transylvania would go to the Habsburgs’ possession if Zsigmond happened to die without a male heir. In case the prince lost his country or resigned from his power, he would be given a domain in Silesia. He was going to be made an Imperial Duke and a member of the Order of the Golden Fleece. We can clearly see the vanity and the ambitions of Zsigmond and how much he wanted to be recognized internationally.

As for the two Romanian Principalities, Wallachia and Moldova, they have also joined the coalition. Voivode Michael and Voivode Áron have equally accepted Zsigmond as their liege-lord. Transylvanian troops entered their countries and they beat out the Turk guards from there. As a result of this, the Ottomans’ logistic route on the Danube River was threatened and the Ottoman Occupied Lands of Hungary were surrounded by the Christians from all sides. The Sublime Port was forced to fight a war on two fronts. All in all, the Christian Coalition has been able to face the year 1595 with a lot better chances than before.

(Source: Szibler Gábor)

1570, the borders of the Principality of Transylvania

If you are interested in how Báthori István seized the power in Transylvania and began his road to the Polish throne, please read my dramatized historical short story here:

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