Nádasdy Pál and Révay Judit had several sons, György, Ferenc, István, Tamás, and Zsigmond, and two daughters, Éva and Anna Mária. Only Anna Mária and Ferenc, born in Csejte on January 14, 1623, reached adulthood. The son was raised in a Protestant family and was well-educated, speaking both Latin and German.
As a child, he translated the Lutheran theological work Fidelis Admonitio (Faithful Admonition), written at the Wittenberg Academy. However, under the influence of his trip to Italy in 1642 and the persuasion of Palatine Esterházy Miklós, he announced his conversion to Catholicism in the church of Csepreg on November 21, 1643. This allowed him to marry Esterházy’s beautiful daughter Júlia Anna on February 6, 1644, at the beginning of the following year. You can read more about Csepreg here:
Of their 15 children, 11 reached adulthood, and several of them became clergymen, such as László, who became Archbishop of Csanád, and Miklós, who became Prepost of Pozsony and Bishop of Sebenico. Julianna, Mary Anne, and Francis became nuns. Krisztina and Mária Magdolna became the wives of Miklós Draskovich, who later became a magistrate, and his brother János, and Anna Terézia became the wife of Pálffy János. István, Ferenc, and Tamás continued the family name.
When Nádasdy Ferenc was 10 years old, his father died and he inherited his father’s position as the Chief Comes of Vas County. However, he could no longer receive the former military office of the Palatine, the chief captaincy of Transdanubia, the former military office of his ancestors, his father, his grandfather Nádasdy Ferenc II, and his great-grandfather. As he was a minor, the emperor passed it on to Batthyány Ádám, who could then pass it on to his descendants. You can read more about Nádasdy’s ancestors on my page, Baron Nádasdy Tamás (1498-1562):
Nádasdy III Ferenc preferred to compensate himself with courtly and noble titles. His Catholicization helped his rapid rise, and he was appointed Master of the Chamber in 1644, Royal Councillor in 1645, and Chief Chamberlain a year later. The latter occurred while he and his brother-in-law, Esterházy Pál, were traveling in the Holy Roman Empire, attending the coronation of Ferdinand IV. In 1665 he was again in Italy, where he met the Pope.
In 1651 he was appointed by King Ferdinand III as the chief captain of Alsólendva and Nempti (Lenti). In 1657 he was accepted by the Lower Austrian Estates. This was made possible by the fact that from the 1650s he established his court in Austrian castles, first in Seibersdorf and then in Pottendorf. Here is more about Alsólendva (Lendava) Castle:
Nádasdy Ferenc was a famous art collector of his time, and art treasures, precious objects, and ornate volumes from all corners of Europe were brought to the Count’s castles in Sárvár, Pottendorf, and Kreuzur. Because of his wealth, he was known as the ‘Hungarian Croesus’. On the ceiling of the newly built banqueting hall of his castle in Sárvár, he and Hans Rudolf Miller painted a series of seven frescoes depicting the battles of his grandfather, the Black Bey. For his propaganda, he maintained printing presses in his estates (in Keresztúr and Pottendorf) and published at his own expense a work entitled Mausoleum Regni Apostolici regum et ducum, a biography of Hun and Hungarian leaders and kings with engravings, in Nuremberg in 1664.
He bought the castle of Pottendorf near Vienna to be closer to the court. He aimed to obtain the highest possible office, especially the title of nobility, which was the dignity of his great-grandfather, Nádasdy Tamás. He wanted to win over the Hungarian nobility on the one hand and the Habsburg court on the other. His ambition was not fulfilled and in 1655 he ‘only’ received the dignity of a magistrate. This allowed him to take second place among the nobles of the Kingdom of Hungary.
He also tried to gain the title of commander-in-chief of the Hungarian armies, especially in the war of 1663-64, although he was not very good at warfare. Nevertheless, he was present at the siege of Kanizsa in 1664 and later at the battle of Körmend. He also took part in smaller actions, such as the Somogy raid, which he led together with Batthyány Ádám in 1657.
The rapid conclusion of the Peace of Vasvár, without consulting the Estates, caused him deep indignation. In his Oratio to the Four Estates of the Country (1666), he exposed the plight of the Hungarians and blamed Vienna, but the work remained in manuscript. That is why he joined the nobility movement around the nobleman Wesselényi Ferenc. He signed a treaty with Wesselényi during a bath in the summer of 1666. In December they allied with Zrínyi Péter (Petar Zrinski). In the charter, they promised to unite for the good of the country, to keep the treaty secret, and to protect each other. More about this:
At first, they sought the support of the French court, the Habsburgs’ eternal enemy. But in 1667, King Louis XIV and Emperor Leopold signed a peace treaty, and the possibility of external support was eliminated. The movement hoped to find a new ally in the Sultan’s court, but the Porte, intent on the Peace of Vasvár, betrayed the plot in Vienna.
After Wesselényi died in 1667, the king appointed Nádasdy palatine, thus fulfilling his dream of becoming the head of the nobility. However, he also wanted to gain a leading position in the movement against Zrínyi (Zrinski), and this rivalry had disastrous consequences. The conflict between Zrínyi and Nádasdy became acute. Zrínyi was a great warrior against the Turks, an ambitious leader but fundamentally unfit for leadership. Each of the two men was suspicious of the other and feared that sooner or later the other would expose the conspiracy, so they tried to prevent him from doing so.
In a struggle for position, the ambitious leaders reported each other to Vienna. And the court pretended to forgive those who had submitted. In the spring of 1670, the uprising was to take place, but the imperialists struck in time. Zrínyi and his brother-in-law Franz Frangepán fled to Vienna and surrendered. Within weeks, the imperial armies had crushed the headless movement that had been hastily launched.
Meanwhile, Nádasdy awaited his fate in his castle in Pottendorf. His wife had died in early 1669, and the distraught magistrate had written out his fortune and expected nothing more from life. Although his relatives and patrons urged him to flee, he decided to stay. On September 3, 1670, soldiers attacked him and dragged him from his bed to Vienna. The case against the three main accused had already been prepared and their fate was not in doubt.
During the interrogations, Nádasdy defended himself vigorously and even attacked, but later confessed and waived further defense. He was charged with the Oratio. Some of Emperor Leopold’s biographers, in their works published after the execution, claimed that the Hungarian magistrate had planned the fire in the Vienna Castle in early 1668 and that he had tried to poison the Emperor, who was visiting the Pottendorf Castle a few weeks later.
Despite the Pope’s intercession with the Emperor, Leopold decided to execute Nádasdy and confiscate his property. However, he showed “mercy” and they didn’t cut off Nádasdy’s right hand the day before the execution. On April 30, 1671, Nádasdy was executed in Vienna, Zrínyi, and Frangepán in Wiener Neustadt. Nádasdy’s body was publicly displayed in the courtyard of the town hall for two hours, although his children begged him not to.
His children were forbidden to bear the name Nádasdy (it was allowed again in 1681). The body of Nádasdy Ferenc was buried next to his beloved wife in the family crypt of St. Augustine’s Church of Léka, which he founded. Most of his immense fortune and art treasures have been lost, and researchers have been able to identify only a few of them. His estates passed into the hands of other aristocratic families. The Nádasdy family lost its influence for a while, but thanks to the tenacity and not least the loyalty of the Nádasdy children, it was able to work its way back into the Hungarian elite within a few decades.
Source: Szibler Gábor
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