Who was Oláh Miklós? (1493-1568)
Oláh Miklós was born in Nagyszeben /Sibiu/ on 10 January 1493 and died in Pozsony /Bratislava/Pressburg/ on 15 January 1568.
He used to be one of the most determining persons of Hungary in the 16th century.
Oláh received his education in the Jagellonian court in Buda. After the Battle of Mohács in 1526, he fled to the Netherlands (1532-1539) where he was learning and made contacts with the leading Latinist intellectuals like Erasmus of Rotterdam. (Their exchange of letters is an important historical source concerning the history of the Dutch Latinists.)
It was the time when he wrote a detailed description of Hungary (1536) which was the first in its kind. He was good at recognizing the talented young authors whose studies he was supporting. Among others, he promoted Forgách Ferenc, Istvánffy Miklós or Zsámboki János.
As a politician, Oláh also played an important role. He was the leader of the Chancellor Office between 1543-1568 and he was appointed as Governor of Hungary from 1562 to 1568.
His work was important as he helped to organize the smooth coordination between the Estates and the monarch. This coordination made it possible that the Hungarian Estates were able to use the resources well and to make optimal military efforts in order to block the Ottoman empire’s conquest.
He was the Archbishop of Esztergom between 1553-1568 and he was able to bring about changes and reforms by visiting churches, organizing synods, reforming monasteries and settling down Jesuits in Hungary, not to mention establishing clerical seminars that are still working in the 21st century.
Why can he be important to us today?
Oláh Miklós was a Transylvanian and a European person at the same time but above all, he was a Hungarian. He had witnessed Mohács and the disaster of the partition of Hungary.
Having fled abroad, he wrote his most important works and became a member of the Latinist elite of Europe. Yet, even though he lived in Brussels, he never forgot his roots and it was where he wrote his main books called „Attila” and „Hungaria”. Soon, he returned home to serve his homeland not just with his writings but in other ways, too.
Even in the darkest situation, Oláh Miklós trusted in the survival and rebuilding of Hungary, believing in the strength of knowledge. Moreover, he was working hard to achieve this goal.
He is an excellent example of how to survive the chaos with an unbroken spine, to work amid the confusion when all the values that had been considered eternal, seem to be gradually fading away.
Source: ELTE BTK Kora Újkkori Történeti Tanszék