Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars between 1372-1699

Catherine of Brandenburg, wife of Prince Bethlen

Catherine of Brandenburg

Here you can see the dresses of Cathrine of Brandenburg, wife of Prince Bethlen Gábor:

The princely wedding with Catherine of Brandenburg took place in Kassa (Kosice), 1626, but only under the condition of the bride that Bethlen should make a compensation for the Jesuit martyrs a few years ago executed in the very same city. Catherine was 21 and Bethlen was 45, the latter spoke neither German nor French so they must have had language barriers for the first time.

Catherine and Prince Bethlen

After having arrived in Transylvania, Catherine wasn’t warmly accepted by the nobility because she was too fond of grandeur and festivals – besides, she was German. Soon a gossip got started about a handsome young count, called Csáky István (Stephen).


 

On top of that, Bethlen seemingly has fallen in love with her, giving her luxurious presents and nominating her as his heir on the throne, just after a few months past the wedding.

the music instrument of Catherine

The influence of the young Count Csáky had also been growing and became more and more obvious. Yet, after Bethlen’s death in 1629, the nobility rose no obstacles and allowed her to take the throne, in accordance with Bethlen’s will. Bethlen had assigned his younger brother, Bethlen István (Stephen), to act as a governor, thus assisting in Catherine’s reign.

Coins minted during her short reign

The Protestant Bethlen István developed a strong dislike towards the Princess because the young Catholic Count Csáky’s influence got even stronger, the young nobleman in 1630 got hold of 7 royal counties and convinced the spiritually unbalanced Catherine to convert to Catholic and tried to make her negotiate with the Habsburgs.

Although it was obvious that the Princess had done no wrong during her 10 months reign but her suggestibility forecast a frightening prospect for the future and nobody wanted to take the risk. So Bethlen István and the nobles played the inexperienced Princess off against the laws and took her power and wealth away, making her resign in September 1630.


 

It was the time when Rákóczi György (George) appeared on the scene and a fierce political fight developed between Bethlen István and him for the throne of Transylvania. The time has come for the humiliated Catherine of Brandenburg: she could take her revenge over the detested Bethlen István by voting against him in favor of Rákóczi György.

the signature of Catherine

Her intervention decided the faith of Transylvania: she was able to obtain the Sultan’s athame (document of approval) for Rákóczi that officially put him in power. She read it up in the Council with utter pleasure. The details of events concerning Catherine between 1630-33 would take a whole new article to write. Then she left Transylvania and never returned there. In Vienna, she met Francis, Prince of Saxonia and Lauenburg and they lived happily ever after until she died in 1639.

You can read more about Prince Rákóczi György II, the son of Prince Rákóczi György I here:

https://www.hungarianottomanwars.com/1541-1699/1658-prince-gyorgy-rakoczi-ii-defeated-the-ottoman-army/

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