Duke Batthyány Ferenc (1497-1566)

Batthyány Ferenc (1497-1566)

Batthyányi Ferenc was the one who established the immense wealth of the generous and valiant Batthyány family. He was born on 28 October 1497, his father was Batthyány Boldizsár who had received ennoblement from King Matthias Corvinus and became Chief Comes of Vas County as well as Chief Chamberlain and Vice-Judge of the Country.

I would add him to the respectful members of the Valiant Order, though. After all, many of his descendants have done much for the Homeland that they could not have carried out without the huge wealth of the family.

Ferenc was sent to the Hungarian king`s court where he was brought up along with the young heir of the kingdom who later got famous as King Louis II of Hungary, the one who died at Mohács in 1526. The young heir was 9 years younger than him. Ferenc was just 17 in 1514 when he was appointed as Royal Chamberlain. It was noted about his young years that he loved merry-making, wine, and ladies in the Court. After Louis was crowned, he made Ferenc his Cupbearer in 1517. Thus he has been elevated to the rank of one of the greatest barons in the country. Next time, he became Duke (or Bán) of Croatia-Slavonia-Dalmatia in 1523.

As a Chamberlain, he took part in the military actions against the Dózsa-peasant uprising in 1514. He was made Chief Comes of Vas County in 1521 and was wearing the Chief Comes title of Pozsony County between 1525-27, too. It was the time when he got hold of his first major domains, the lands of Lord Török Bálint (Török was accused of letting Nándorfehérvár aka Belgrade fall to the Turks so his lands were taken away), and Ferenc was also given all the domains of the mighty Újlaky family as they didn`t have a male heir who could have inherited the baron`s lands. This was how Batthyány Ferenc received the Castle of Németújvár in 1524. (See the pictures of his castle below.)

Ferenc was defending Jajca Castle successfully against the Ottomans in 1525.
He took part in the Battle of Mohács in 1526 where he was leading the right wing which was attacking the enemy. After the battle, he managed to escape.
He was among the supporters of King Szapolyai János on his coronation in Székesfehérvár during the autumn but a few days later he fled to King Habsburg Ferdinand when he heard that Szapolyai was giving the rank of Duke to his rival, Frangepán Kristóf. As a sign of his gratitude, the Habsburg ruler confirmed his rank as a Duke / Bán of Croatia. King Ferdinand gave Ferenc also the domain of Rohonc-Szalónak just for sure, later Szolnok city and Újlipótvár became his, too. (Szolnok was taken from him in 1552 by the Ottomans.)

Thus, Ferenc could move his headquarters from Somogy County to the West-Trans Danubian Region where there were fewer Ottoman raids.He was helping to defend Sárvár Castle in 1532, and he and his cavalry chased the besieging Ottomans away. As for Sárvár Castle, he was said to have been assisting in the arrangement of the famous marriage between Orsolya Kanizsai and Tamás Nádasdy.

He resigned his Dukeship in 1533 for good but he was always around the king. He was one of the few Hungarian barons who had a house in Vienna. Also, Batthyány had a great role in persuading the Hungarian noblemen in the Diet of 1547 to accept the Habsburgs` claim to inherit the Hungarian throne.
He was nominated as a Palatine in 1554 but he didn`t accept the rank because of his health problems. When Habsburg Maximilian was crowned in 1563, Ferenc was carrying the Holy Crown of Hungary at the ceremony which was a sign of great respect.

He met his wife in the court of the late King Lajos (Louis) II, a German lady called Svetkovics Katalin whom he married in 1524. They had no children so they brought up their brother Boldizsár`s son, Kristóf.
Kristóf was sent to the Royal Court to be educated but he proved too lazy and prodigal. So, they paid more attention to the other two sons of Kristóf called Gáspár and Boldizsár.
Baron Forgách Ferenc knew him and he wrote the following about Batthyány Ferenc:

”He became famous during the knightly games of the Court as he was a very strong and well-built man. He has done no whatsoever famous things as a Duke of Croatia which rank had been given to him in King Louis` time. Yet, he has become all the more infamous because he was harassing and greedy nature against all his neighbors: he cared about nothing except enlarging his own property.”
Batthyány Ferenc died on 28 or 29 November 1566 and was buried in the church of Németújvár. You can see his nicely carved tombstone in the picture which was made in 1569.
Below, you can see his tombstone (and of Boldizsár Batthyányi’s as well) and pictures from Németújvár (Güssing) Castle where it can be found.

(Source: Szibler Gábor)

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