The most important thing: “this king loved his country”

Statue of King Matthias in Komárom (on the Slovakian side)

“This king loved his country”

According to the great poet and general, Zrínyi Miklós aka Nikola Zrínski (1620-1664) the most important thing about Matthias was that: “this king loved his country”

Zrínyi Miklós (by Jan Thomas)

Zrínyi wrote it in 1657 about King Matthias: 

“His whole life was about courage and all of his thoughts were valiant, and the famous Roman general’s words were in his mind and in his mouth: Audendo agendoque res hungara crevit, non segnibus consiliis, quae timidi cauta vocant.” (Meaning: Boldness and activity lifted the Hungarian case high, not barren bits of advice which are called precaution by the worried people.)”

The lands ruled by Matthias

Zrínyi went on: “This is how we remember King Mátyás, and his memory will be forever respected by the Hungarians who will always sigh after this brave raven. He was chasing eagles and he was flying higher than them because of his valor, diligence, and tireless speed. He has never been defeated, his court was the school of Mars, his look was like the lion’s face, his steadiness and military knowledge have surpassed everything, the Earth was fertile was flourishing because of his benevolence, God looked down on us mercifully and he was gorgeous for the entire country and world to see.”

Matthias and Beatrix

“…he had given several great blows to the Turks, damaging them; he made peace with the Czech outside the country. Inside, I do not count the buildings throughout the kingdom which he had built with great expenses nor his taking care of countless foreign people who had invited, how honestly he was keeping his envoys because it would be useless to write into this short work. Instead, I consider his other deeds, like the distribution of offices to worthy people, the creation of laws, strengthening of towns, making his nation brighter and ruining the barbarian thinking, carrying out justice everywhere.”

The gold Forint minted by Matthias

“Not all the kings are given these many things to boast with; especially not those who do not love their own country, nation, and subjects out of the pure heart, who does not take such a great pleasure in them as King Mátyás did.” (Please, note that I use the Eastern name order for Hungarians where family names come first.)

“Either you should have never been born or you should have lived forever.”

 In his short work that was written in the Hungarian language, Zrínyi Miklós summarized his thoughts about Matthias:

: „…errül a királyrul mondhatnánk: Vagy sohasem születtél volna, vagy örökké kellett volna élned.”
Meaning: „…and we could tell about this king: `Either you should have never been born or you should have lived forever.”

King Matthias’ statue in Kolozsvár (Cluj, Klausenburg, Romania)

Let’s invoke Zrínyi who finished his work about Matthias with the following conclusion in 1657: “The glory of this world is just like this, also it is similar to the hopes we place in this; when the glass is the shiniest, it breaks. Nevertheless, this sad thought cannot frighten great-hearted people to make good deeds, and nobody should complain about the shortness of his life; although the life span is not too long and much of this time had been taken away in wasted in childhood, by sicknesses and the nights but the remaining few years are enough to fulfill many nice things.”

The Black Army’s soldiers guard the COA of Matthias

“King Matthias was like this when he died; a king who has been admired by many but followed by just a few. Verily, we can say he had a happy life because God had given him so many physical and spiritual goods and luck. His fortune has surpassed all the contemporary monarchs` fortune, his life was neither long nor short because he had accomplished so many things: he had bridled two emperors, and two kings, made the Republique of Venice pay taxes, and spread the good reputation of his name all over the world.”

Matthias taking Vienna

“It was not a long life, for he had not seen much sickness which is the company of old age as a rule as it is said:

Time senectutem, non enim venit sola (Meaning: be afraid of old age because it will not come alone); he has never been scorned by the young people who are usually bored with the weaknesses of the aged, and he has not seen his fortune turning into worse like those who have a long life. Fate had hindered and blocked all misfortune in his life, just to release even more disaster on us after his death. Alas, it has been like that, and we could surely tell about this king: `Either you should have been never born or you should have lived forever.”

King Matthias and his Queen Beatrix

No wonder, that the Habsburg king and his court didn’t really welcome Zrínyi’s work. Obviously, by invoking the memory of the last powerful Hungarian king, Zrínyi expressed the need for a strong native king who would be a better ruler than the Habsburgs. Did he think of himself? After all, Matthias didn’t have royal ancestors, either, he was just the son of a VERY successful general, Hunyadi János…Allegedly, in secret, the Turks offered the Hungarian crown to Zrínyi shortly before his hunting accident that killed him in 1664. Many people think Zrínyi was assassinated by the Habsburgs but these things are debated…

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