Connections between Matthias and England
Matthias’ foreign policy is to be seen as part of a parallel alliance diplomatic system, within the context of a prime antagonism of the 1480s, the French-Habsburg hostility. Matthias was bound to search for a counter-weight against the Habsburgs, which he was full-heartedly hoping to find in King Louis XI, then, when he got disillusioned in his expectations, he searched for other partners from England to Switzerland. The English relationship of Matthias was coordinated with that of Milan: the Sforzas at the end of the 1480s also concluded a treaty of mutual friendship with the Tudors as Matthias` Queen Beatrix was also a Sforza.
The mid-1470s Burgundian-Hungarian-Neapolitan-English alliance had already had an anti-Habsburg color, since the partners were right to guess that France would seek for the help of Emperor Frederick.
King Edward did receive 3 Hungarian knights, they were recommended to him like this by the chief-knight of the Order of the Garter: “Most dread Souveregne Lord. please jour Grace to understand that there be come to Cantenbury III worshipfull Knigths of the King of Hyngaris court callet Uladislaus of Bodna, Fredericus of Waredma, and Lancelagus od Tresulwan…” (Harleian manuscripts no.69/12, p.113-114, British Museum, see the picture below which lists the Hungarian knights in Canterbury in 1474.)
Later, the House of York considered the Habsburgs as allies, the English-Hungarian relations were better when we take a look at the Tudor-Hunyadi connections.
We know of the mission of some James Radclyffe, who aimed to fight the Turks in Hungary in 1477, who might have been acting as an agent of England. The English rulers considered Matthias as a powerful factor to deal with and even months before the alliance with Habsburg Maximilian, the king of England sent ambassadors to treat with Hungary on 17 April 1479.
The members of the embassy – John, Abbot of Abingdon, John Shirwood, archdeacon of Richmond, apostolic protonotary, the would-be bishop of Durham, a pillar of the Yorkist government and John Gyles, decretorum doctor, a papal tax collector in England – demonstrate that the king expected a lot of this mission. Probably Matthias, under the threat of an Anglo-Habsburg alliance, did not give favorable answer to the English comissionaries.
King Richard III resumed the pro-Habsburg policy and in 1483 re-confirmed the Habsburg-alliance.
In the Habsburg-Yorkist rapprochement the anti-Habsburg continental powers,in this way, Hungary also had to search for other partners, and after the fall of the Yorkists at the battle of Bosworth (1485), they hoped to find it in the Tudors who needed to find new allies at the back of Maximilian.
We know of an embassy from Matthias to Henry VII Tudor in 1488, to congratulate the king on his ascension, though, unfortunately, nothing more concrete has survived of the mission.
As the English-Hungarian relations have improved, there is an English nobleman appearing in the Turk wars of Matthias, Robert de Champlayn. Henry VII made an effort to treat with the King of Hungary. On 26 February 1488, a letter of protection was issued for a Robert Champlayn, who betook himself against the Turks, testified by a commendation from Matthias.
The charter relates that he was dangerously wounded and captured by the Turks in Hungary, and the Court was to ransom him for 1500 ducats. It means, bearing in mind that he had all his household wealth valued at 300 ducats paid for his ransom, that the King paid a large sum for a knight of his, on the grounds of which it is to conclude that the knight had been on a diplomatic mission to Hungary just before, or, parallelly with the bishop of Várad’s French embassy, during 1487. That is, Henry VII felt important to contact the potential anti-Habsburg partner, Hungary.
Later, there were talks about a great western crusade against the Turks; Henry VIII has even sent money for it.
(G. Szántai, source Attila Bárány)
English connections blocked by Venice / 2
The English were involved in the process of giving out Prince Dzsem to Hungary but the Venetians tried to undermine the English-Hungarian negotiations by all means. I had written before how persistently Matthias was trying to get this Turkish Prince Dzsem aka Zizim, the usurper of the Sultan who was actually the king`s relative at the same time. Matthias wanted to give a great role to this prince in his future anti-Ottoman war. He reacted to the news that the Pope would want to sell Prince Dzsem to the Sultan of Egypt for cash like this: “I swear on the cross of Christ – cried Matthias – if Prince Dzsem is transported to overseas, it will be I who will lead the Turk Sultan to Italy.”
Matthias wrote to the Pope about this:
“It seems as if His Holiness wanted to declare a war against the Turks, allied with Venice. Yet, the Turks are impossible to be attacked from the direction of the sea. As for the Venetian fleet, what kind of decent deeds they have so far done for the benefit of Christendom? It (i.e. the fleet) is exclusively serving the Venetians’ interests and it is being used for carrying weapons, tools, and other goods to the enemies of the Christianity. The Turks are making more profit from their Venetian import than from half of their Empire’s income! In spite of this, the Venetians who are more unscrupulous than the Turks themselves, they are in high esteem before His Holiness.”
The Venetian ambassador was hindering establishing contacts with the English court because he wanted to block Matthias` intention to get hold of the Turkish Prince, his second-cousin.
In a way, it seems from the Venetian report that the French government might have intended to surrender Prince Cem aka Dzsem to Matthias. The Venetian ambassador was informed “ the French court gave him hopes of the custody of Zizim”, and the king of France was measuring the alternative of handing over the prince since he “had taken 26 days’ time for his reply and had sent a messenger to learn Zizim’s (Dzsem`s) wishes [!] and“[…] had ascertained from a trustworthy person that Zizim (Prince Dzsem) was willing to go to the King of Hungary […] he said that he (Dzsem) in France he is a lost man and that the promises made to him had not been observed”.
Zorzi, the Venetian diplomat also speaks of the advice of Prior “Guy de Blanchefort who had Zizim in custody” to “surrender Zizim to the King of Hungary”. True to say, the surrender of Dzsem would have turned the whole European political constellation upside down, and the Serenissima of Venice would have been ready to do everything to prevent it.
Zorzi was then working hard to convince the French diplomacy and even Prince Dzsem, through intermediaries that the King of Hungary “wanted to deliver him to the Turk for the sole purpose of making an agreement with the Turk”, in which case, was putting now pressure on Charles VIII at the same time, “the King of France would break his promise and place the whole of Christendom in very manifest peril, and by such proceeding he would ill become the most Christian King”.
Sadly, the Pope sided with the Venetians. Matthias wrote: “…and His Holiness denies the Turk prince from me, listening to their (the Venetians`) advice; nevertheless, His Holiness knows very well that only the Hungarians are able to fight against the Turks successfully.” (…) “Just let His Holiness go and deny the Turk prince from me, listening to the advice of others: I have fulfilled my responsibilities. If the Venetians finally get their victim and the fire of peril will be burning, I am going to show that I do not belong among the very last rulers of the Earth. Then, the entire Papal States, Italy and the whole of Christendom will feel the consequences of having sacrificed the Turk prince. I can state with the maximal certainty that the Turks have never wished to make peace more than with me; nobody would make more profit from this peace than me. From these, His Holiness may predict what would happen after ceding the Turk prince to Venice.”
We know that Prince Dzsem (see his picture below) was murdered in France after King Matthias` death: if the Venetians could not sell him to the sultan, he had to be put aside.
In the pictures, you can also see the signature of Matthias and his coronation robe. (Read my posts of 7 and 8 July 2018 about Prince Dzsem.)