King Matthias` duel with Holubar

King Matthias defeats Holubar (by Wagner Sándor)

Let me share with you the true story of King Matthias’ duel with the German knight, Holubar, based on the source of Galeotto Marzio (1427-1497). Holubar is often confused with another knight called Suohla who was indeed a Bohemian soldier of the king. It was Antonio Bonfini who described how Matthias and his knight were fighting in a tournament in Székesfehérvár. These tournaments were very popular in King Matthias’ age, there were at least 8 such tournaments held only during the celebration of the wedding of Matthias and his Queen Beatrix. Let us remark, that even the young scholar, Galeotti was picking up a fight once during the Bohemian wars of the king. The Italian Latinist put on armor and he defeated a conceited soldier called Alesus in a tournament. So he knew what he was talking about.

Galeotto Marzio

Also, we know that several Hungarian knights took part in similar tournaments in England, in the court of King Edward IV. We have the names of Bodna Ulászló, Várdai Frigyes, and Erdélyi László who were awarded in Canterbury.

Galeotto’s story:

“King Matthias was reputed to be a generous king and his court was so famous that people traveled there from far away lands to visit. Once upon a time, the strong Holubar knight paid a visit there as well. In the German court, he was told to be an invincible warrior. He was indeed invincible in jousting but he was also experienced and skilled in the Italian style of fencing, (my remark: he had to know the longsword fencing art of the Italian Fiore style) he had humiliated all his opponents. He was fighting with a blunt lance and pushed the other knights out of the saddle, nobody could resist his attack.

However, they used the „right” lances in Buda and rode on trained horses that were jumping here and there. Holubar was a giant knight with a red beard and the folks of Buda were just gazing at him when he rode into the court.

Buda in 1493

Matthias was pleased to receive the renowned warrior and told him:
„Take good care, valiant warrior, for the Hungarians use sharply pointed lances and you might taste quickly the soil.”
„Your Majesty, I am not afraid of that. Bring out your best knights, I will beat all of them from the saddle,” said Holubar.
„It will not happen so,” the king was thinking and added: 
„I will tell you what. Tomorrow I will fight against you until that time, be my guest.”

Holubar got very frightened. He regretted having come to a country where the king was fighting like others. He was sure if he happened to beat the king off his horse, his head would decorate a stake. He was wondering about this and told aloud the following:
„I cannot fence against you, Your Majesty, I might pull you to the ground and injure you seriously.”
„Don`t think about it, Knight Holubar, just care about yourself and get prepared well for tomorrow.”

Many thousands of people got together in the market of Buda Castle on the next day because everybody wanted to see the king`s duel. Before the fight, Matthias summoned Holubár, saying:
„Make an oath before me, Knight Holubar that you will fight with me as if you fought against your greatest foe.”
Holubár was looking for excuses in vain, finally, he had to swear before the king. Then, Matthias told him:
„If I fall off my horse, my warriors will not take revenge. But if you favor me, you will be the son of death!”

After this, the two warriors jumped on their horses. At the first clash, the lances avoided each other, at the second clash Holubar fell to the ground through the rump of his horse.
King Matthias received a strong beat on his chest so he was dismounting slowly but did not release the reins. Holubar was half-dead and broke his arm, he was carried away to be healed.
The king had supplied him carefully with everything and gave him money, weapons, and clothes until the knight has recovered.”

You can read more about King Matthias Corvinus, I have a series of articles about him:


King Matthias in the Thuróczi Chronicle

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