The Virgin Mary and the Venetians in King Lajos’ wars
King Louis I and the miracle by Virgin Mary
How did the Hungarian king endorse the church of Mariazell with the miraculous painting?
King Louis the Great (1342-1382) had a very good “media”. Even his enemies praised him during his life and after, too. After his death, tales were spreading about the just king who was visiting his subjects in disguise: these were similar tales to King Matthias’ legends. Yet, while King Matthias (1458-1490) was receiving hard critiques during his strict reign, Louis was a real champion, a knight.
Part of his good reputation was true but he had a good “propaganda” as well that portrayed him as the defender of Christendom and enemy of heretics. Verily, he had tried his best to support his renown.
The Maria legend of the famous Austrian Mariazell is closely connected to him. Historians date the origin of the legend to 1364 and there is a source from 1690 that claims it had happened in 1363.
It says that the Tatars marched against Hungary with an army of 200,000 men and our king had just 20,000 soldiers and his situation was not quite good. Then, Louis began to pray before the picture of the Virgin Mary, the Patron Saint of Hungary and was pleading her not to abandon the country in the need. In his dream, he saw Virgin Mary who promised him victory, and asked him to build a church in Zell, Austria, and take her painting there, after the battle.
When he woke, he found the painting on his chest which used to stand on a small altar. He thought it was a Divine sign and defeated the Tatars in the coming battle.
Out of gratitude, he and his whole army (!) went to (Maria)Zell and had a church built there, gifting lots of gold and diamonds along with the picture.
However, we know that he defeated the Tatars in Transylvania in 1345, exactly on 2 February, on the holiday of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.
The Austrian historians say that the church of Mariazell was rebuilt in Gothic style between 1340-1380.
Ottomans aided the Venetians in the Hungarian-Venetian war 1372-81
King Louis got into a conflict with Venice in 1372 and alas, the Venetians were allied with the Turks. He got himself involved in the Venetian-Genoese Wars.
Venice had participated in the dismemberment of the Byzantine Empire in 1204 and gradually taken over land on the Adriatic, entering into conflict with Hungary; on the Italian mainland, its terrestrial acquisition had generated a rivalry with the nearby largest city, Padua. At the same time, Venice had the support of John V Palaiologos, Byzantine Emperor, and hired several thousands of Ottoman soldiers. When Venice threatened Padua in 1372, Hungary and Austria got allied with Genoa to defend Padua. We know, that King Louis used to have Paduan crossbowmen serving in his army before. Louis sent 4,000 Hungarian cavalrymen and 1,000 Austrian ones to Padua in 1372. They were led by István Lackfi, Benedek Himfi, György Czudar, and by the Archbishop of Esztergom, Tamás Telegdi. They arrived in Padua in May 1373 and joined the army of Da Carrara. Together, they defeated the Venetians in an open battle at Piove Sacco.
After this, the Hungarian soldiers began to act as indisciplined mercenaries and demanded more money from Padua so Louis had to write a letter and warn his generals, saying that there was no need to get more money as the men had been paid for three months. He added, that they were allowed to get money from Da Carrara only as a loan.
Louis declared a full-scale war on Venice when he was informed that the Venetians brought in 5,000 Ottoman warriors to help the Italians who besieged Treviso.
Treviso was defended by Paduan and Hungarian forces. The Turk reinforcement arrived on 1 July and together with the Venetians, they defeated the forces of General Lackfi. The Hungarians had had great losses at Treviso, they had many casualties and suffered harm in the worth of 300,000 Florins, losing 30,000 horses as well.
A temporary truce was signed. During the truce, Louis turned against Wallachia. The fact that Venice employed Muslims, gave a reason for King Louis to attack Wallachia in 1374 which resulted in the third Hungarian-Ottoman clash.
As for Venice, after Louis had ransomed the captured Hungarian soldiers, the war broke out again.
He attacked Venice in 1378 and the army, led by General Himfi and János Horváthi, gained ground against the enemy. This time, the Hungarians were softening up the enemy with raids and sieges, avoiding the grand-scale battles. As King Louis had relied on his Cuman light cavalry just like on his heavy cavalry, it is most likely that Cuman warriors could have been also taken to this campaign.
Soon, 5,000 Hungarian soldiers marched in Padua. They took San Lorenzo shortly afterward.
Despite the naval victories of Venice against the Genevans in 1379, they pleaded for peace with the Hungarians but Louis’ terms and conditions were too hard.
In the meantime, Hungarian soldiers were looting in the town of Mantua which increased the tensions between the allies.
Eventually, the King of Hungary re-conquered Dalmatia from Venice, and by 1379 and his forces threatened Venice itself by land from the north.
A small remark: Venice had originally been built on the water in fear of the attacks of the Huns of Attila. One can imagine that the inhabitants connected the Hungarians with the fearsome warriors of the Huns. In this age, it was commonplace in Europe that Hungarians were regarded as the late sons of King Attila. It is easy to imagine how great havoc may have been caused by the Cuman cavalrymen who must have looked very similar to either Attila’s Huns or to the pre-Christianized Hungarians from the 9-10th century.
As for Venice, the city and its allies claimed to have won the war against their Italian rival states by 1381.
Yet, Padua could keep her independence.
On the other hand, the Venetians lost the war against King Louis of Hungary, which resulted in the Hungarian conquest of Dalmatian cities.
In the pictures, you can see Italian, Hungarian, and Cuman soldiers. Many Hungarian mural paintings were made in the 14th century which depicted the deeds of Saint László (Ladislav) who was fighting against the Cumans: you can see the attire of Hungarians and Cumans of the age.
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