Batthyány Boldizsár (cc1537-1590)
Batthyányi Boldizsár was born around 1537, his father was Batthyányi Kristóf and his mother was Svetkovics Erzsébet. He and his brother Gáspár had an unhappy childhood because his parents were in a bad marriage, they quarreled and after a while, they separated. Their father was considered to be a prodigal. So the two boys were raised by their aunt Svetkovics Katalin and her husband, the Croatian Bán (Duke) Batthyány Ferenc, her father’s cousin.
Boldizsár, known in correspondence only as Bódiskó, was carefully educated, studying at the Viennese court in September 1550 and from November at his uncle’s castles in Németújvár and Szalónak. In 1555 he spent a year in Graz and then returned to Vienna, where he was mentioned as a noble apprentice in 1559.
In the same year, his uncle sent him to France, to the court of Prince François de Guise in Paris, where he spent two years. In the meantime, he stayed at the court in Amboise and Orléans. He also witnessed the massacres of French Huguenots (Protestants). In the Netherlands, he visited Queen Maria Habsburg, the widow of Lajos (Louis) II.
He spoke seven languages, Hungarian, Croatian, German, Latin, Italian, Spanish, and French, and was exceptionally well educated for his time, with a special interest in the natural sciences. At the beginning of 1566, he married Dorica, daughter of the legendary Zrínyi Miklós (Nikola Subic Zrinski), who died a heroic death defending Szigetvár and moved with her to Szalónak, where he inherited the estates of his uncle, who died at the end of November. After the death of Svetkovics Katalin in 1575, he acquired the whole Batthyány estate.
He tried to avoid the royal court as much as possible, and this attitude of his was proverbial, although he was the royal master of the chief constables from 1568 until his death. Nevertheless, a hundred years later, even Vitnyédy István described him as follows: “Your Grace is like Bottyányi Boldizsár with Emperor Maximilian, whom he invited to go hunting, but he excused himself by saying he had no horse, he was promised a horse, he said he had no saddle, they promised him that too, and then he said he had no shoes, they promised him that too, he replied that however much he admired the Emperor, the monarch should realize that he was not in the mood for hunting. “
In the 1570s and 80s, he was particularly hostile to the court because he and Nádasdy Ferenc supported the political views of Báthory István, Prince of Transylvania and King of Poland, whom they would have liked to see on the Hungarian throne. Both were temporarily out of grace at the court in Vienna (then Prague) and even plotted to be assassinated, but they avoided the court. It was only in the late 1580s, after Báthory’s death, that they regained the favor of the court.
Batthyány preferred to collect books, set up a printing press, and pursue his passions, especially alchemy. He established a laboratory in Németújvár. He was also interested in botany, and between 1577 and 1586 he was visited several times by Carolus Clusius, a botanist from the Netherlands, who published his first book on Hungarian flora in 1583 as a result of his plant collection with Batthyány. In the workshop of Johannes Manlius, a renowned printer, many works were published in Németújvár, including Protestant works. We do not know whether Batthyány was a Lutheran or a Calvinist, probably he was simply interested in religious reform, being closer to the Lutheran movement, but he also tolerated the more radical Helvetic movement, such as Beythe István, on his estates.
But the very knowledgeable lord did not sit at home. In the 1570s and 80s, he and his friends Nádasdy Ferenc and Zrínyi György (Juraj Zrinski) regularly led raids into the territories conquered by the Ottomans. The heroic death of his father-in-law may have greatly influenced him, and at the symbolic funeral of Zrínyi Miklós, he held the tombstone in tears, according to records. In the spring of 1568, he temporarily served as the district chief captain of Transdanubia for three months, and his name was mentioned for this post in 1581. Twice (1583, 1584) he was considered for appointment as a member of the Court Council of War, but he refused to stay in Vienna.
In the summer of 1566, he marched with 160 horsemen to the camp of Emperor Maximilian, and then he organized the defense of the province not only with his fellow high-ranking officers from West Transdanubia but also with the estates of neighboring Styria, thus participating in the fortification and supply of Kanizsa and nearby Bajcsavár castles. In 1583 the Pasha of Buda complained that Nádasdy had built a palisade castle near Kanizsa.
On September 28th and 29th, 1580, the Turks led by Szkander, Bey of Pozsega, who ravaged the area around Varasd, were thoroughly defeated by the Croatian, Hungarian, and German troops (about 2500 men) led by Nádasdy, Zrínyi, Batthyány and Veit of Hallegg, the Slavonic captain of the province. About 250 Turks, including the Bey, fell, 430 were captured and 20 flags were taken by the victors. Batthyány also took part in the raid against Zsámbok and Vál in 1583, although, according to the Pasha of Buda, the palisades were not taken. He also took part in the siege of Koppány Castle in February 1587 and in Kacorlak in August 1587, when Hungarian, Croatian, and German soldiers defeated the army of the four Ottoman Sanjak counties.
Batthyány died on February 1, 1590. He had six children with his wife, but only three of them reached adulthood. It must have been a particular blow to the couple that three of their children, Dorottya, a daughter, and a son died in 1574. One of their adult daughters married Széchy Tamás, and the other Dorottya married Enyingi Török István. His son Ferenc II, who came of age, continued the family name.
Source: Szibler Gábor
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