Prince Rákóczi I Ferenc (1645-1676)

Prince Rákóczi Ferenc, the son of Rákóczi György II

Rákóczi Ferenc was the first-born son of Rákóczi II György of Transylvania and Báthory Zsófia, born on February 24, 1645, in Gyulafehérvár, where his grandfather, Rákóczi I György sat on the throne of Transylvania. At his suggestion, the boy was baptized Ferenc.

The gold of Prince Rákóczi György I (1646)

His father had been monarch of the principality since 1648, and his son Ferenc succeeded him on March 9, 1652. Unfortunately, due to his father’s unfortunate campaign in Poland and the punishment of the Porte, of which his father was also a victim, Ferenc could not inherit the throne of Transylvania. After the death of Prince Rákóczi II György, he and his mother retired to their Hungarian estates. There, Báthory Zsófia, a devout Catholic, returned to the Roman Catholic Church with her son.

Prince Rákóczi György II

On March 1, 1666, Rákóczi I Ferenc and Ilona, the daughter of the Croatian Bán (Duke) Petar Zrinski (Zrínyi Péter) were married, which sealed the alliance of two wealthy families. Péter was the younger brother of Zrínyi Miklós (Nikola Zrinski) who died in 1664. Shortly after his suspicious hunting accident, the Croatian and Hungarian aristocrats began to plot against the Habsburgs.

Zrínyi Ilona / Jelena Zrinska (1643-1703), Prince Rákóczi Ferenc II’s mother

At that time, Zrínyi Péter, together with Palatine Wesselényi Ferenc and County Judge Nádasdy Ferenc, began to consider a move against the Viennese court, and the conspiracy included Rákóczi. A wedding feast lasting several days after the wedding allowed the Hungarian nobility to discuss their options in the “Sub rosa” room of the castle of Sárospatak. Zrínyi wanted the Hungarian-Croatian throne and promised his son-in-law that he would help him win the Transylvanian throne. Rákóczi never wanted to give it up.

The COA of the Rákóczi family

In the spring of 1670, an uprising started in the Rákóczi estates and the northeast of Hungary under the leadership of Rakóczi Ferenc, but the participants of the uprising laid down their arms upon hearing the news of the capture of Petar Zrinski / Zrínyi Péter and his brother-in-law Frangepán Ferenc. Rákóczi locked himself in the castle of Munkács, fearing reprisals. For him, the throne of Transylvania had become a dream. Here is more about the Wesselényi Conspiration:

The leaders of the Wesselényi Conspiracy were executed in 1671

However, Báthory Zsófia managed to obtain a pardon for her son from King Leopold I in exchange for a huge sum of 400,000 gold forints and the admission of German soldiers to her castles. Even though the entire movable and immovable property of the family had to be pledged, Rákóczi did not meet the fate of Zrínyi, Frangepán, and Nádasdy and did not end up on the scaffold.

Zboró (Reconstruction drawing: Fodor Zsolt)

His eldest son György died in infancy, but his daughter Julianna and his son Ferenc survived him. In the summer of 1676, only a few months after the birth of his son, Rákóczi I Ferenc died in Zboró and was buried with princely pomp in the Church of the Holy Trinity in Kassa. He was 31 years old.

Zboró before 1918 Source: Benő Gyula

His epitaph reads: “His Majesty Rákóczi Ferenc, by the grace of God, the chosen prince of Transylvania, lord of the Hungarian parts, Comes of the Székelys, hereditary Comes and hereditary Count of Sáros, died a pious death in the year of our Lord 1676, on July 8th, in the 31st year of his life”.

His son, Prince Rákóczi Ferenc II in 1703

Source: Szibler Gábor

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