Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars

„Delirant Reges, plectunur Achivi” – The people pay for the foolishness of the kings

the coat of arms of King Matthias Corvinus

How King Matthias Corvinus was reinforcing his power and how the people paid for his foreign wars…
King Matthias was born in Transylvania, in Kolozsvár (Cluj, Klausenburg) in 1443 and his family had great lands there. No wonder he wanted to take the reins of Transylvania into his strong hands, knowing how important part it was of the kingdom.

the house where Matthias was born in Kolozsvár

How did Zrínyi Miklós (Nikola Zrinski) write about it some 200 years later? At the same time, see how Zrínyi criticized King Matthias for making war against the Czech king under the excuse of religion; he explains his thoughts about religious wars in more detail.

You can read about the beginning of King Matthias reign here:

Read Zrínyi’s thoughts and let’s pose the question of why these things could be timely in his age: 

“Next, Transylvania and Moldova have rebelled, daring to kick against the luck of the king. Transylvania protested about the size of its tax but it was not a just cause. For the king was in need of the tax, especially a king like Mathias had been…The people have no peace without an army but there is no army without getting paid and there is no payment without taxes. (…) We can observe the quickness and the diligence of the king: he did not leave time for spreading the plot against him: he reacted at once.

The second observation is that this king was that he was masterfully able to carry out something in more than one way. (…) Moldova could not have been tamed without a weapon so he punished it with the weapon. Transylvania has admitted its fault so the king had mercy on it but cast some of the noblemen out of the country. Some of these have not left the country by the given time, trusting in the leniency of the king. The king gave them to the hand of the executioner so the rest could learn not to play anymore with the mercy and the law of the king. Alike, there is no greater sin before God than daringly insisting on God`s mercy.

The third observation is that the king was bustling to fight against the Moldovians; while other kings would have run away immediately from there, he was bravely waiting for his enemy and has even defeated it, though he got wounded himself but one cannot avoid getting wounded because „virtus vulnere viret” – the brave is decorated by wounds.
Then, his army has attacked the Czech king; it was because of the instigation of the Pope of Rome and the Emperor of Rome and the pretext was the religion of this war. I do not know how we must praise this campaign: it was not righteous but it was rather necessary.

Our present world (without telling you a name of a ruler in particular) makes war under the pretext of religion when it wants to add color to its campaign; but where is it written in the laws of the Christians or in the teaching of our Lord Jesus that we must convert the heretics and the Turks to our faith? Certainly, I cannot find it anywhere but instead, I find that we should suffer peacefully enduring everything. Our faith does not want to shed other blood except its own sons`, for the glory of God.

But I have gone far away from my subject. Everyone should look at it for themselves whether the goal of this campaign had been the religion when the country has gained lands in the end. Yet, while the king was making wars against the Hussites, the Turks had taken away many thousands of souls to captivity and built up the Castle of Sabac: we know that Delirant Reges, plectunur Achivi (the people expiate for the foolishness of the kings)”

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