Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars

Zrednai Vitéz János (c.1408-1472)

Vitéz János

Vitéz János of Zredna (Zredna, Kőrös county, today Croatia, c. 1408 – Esztergom, 9 August 1472), Cardinal, Archbishop of Esztergom, uncle of the poet Janus Pannonius. Our Croatian friends call him Ivan Vitez od Sredne as his mother was of Croatian origin. On his father’s side, he derived from Pilis County (his father’s surname was originally Csévi).

The COA of Vitéz János (Picture: GiMa38)

Little is known of his youth; he was educated at the University of Vienna. It is certain that he entered the ecclesiastical order in the bishopric of Zagreb and excelled in Latin and Greek studies and quantum mathematics, so Hunyadi János entrusted him with the education of his sons, László and Mátyás.

Hunyadi János in the Chronicle of Thuróczi
Around 1433 he was transferred to the royal office, first as a notary, then as secretary to King Zsigmond, then King Albert and King  Ulászló, and to the Voivode and Governor Hunyadi János. Vitéz and the Hungarian Latinists of the time were greatly influenced by the famous Italian scholar and teacher Pier Paolo Vergerio, who was invited to Hungary by King Zsigmond (Sigismund) of Hungary and died here in 1444 after more than 25 years.
King Zsigmond of Hungary (by A. Dürer)
When Dominis János, the bishop of Várad, was killed in the Battle of Várna, Hunyadi János recommended him for the post, and the Pope appointed him in 1445. From this time onwards, he played a very important role in the country and was entrusted with important missions, directing the diplomatic actions of the Hunyadi League and leading embassies and negotiations in many European cities.
the coat of arms of the Hunyadi Clan in Hunyad castle
In 1448 he took part in the second battle of Rigómező with Hunyadi János. Then, he was sent to Vienna to forge an alliance with the Austrian noble estates to extradite King László V, and later to negotiate with Emperor Frederick III for the return of the Hungarian Holy Crown. He was an enthusiastic organizer of the Christian anti-Turkish alliance and played his part in the triumph of Nándorfehérvár (Belgrade) in 1456.
The Battle of Nándorfehérvár, 1456
After the death of Hunyadi János, he watched over his sons with fatherly care. As he was one of the most ardent friends of the Hunyadi family, and related to them through his mother, he was also arrested by King László V at the time of Hunyadi László’s execution but was quickly released at the request of Cardinal Juan Carvajal, the papal legate to Hungary. He played an important role in the election of Matthias.
Hunyadi László
You can read more details about the execution of Hunyadi László and the events of this period in my article:
He went to Prague to bargain with George Podjebrád to free Matthias. After Matthias acceded to the throne, the king appointed him chancellor and gave him great influence over the affairs of the country. In 1463 he was appointed governor of Zagreb County, in 1464 he and his successors were made hereditary Chief Comes of Bihar County in the bishopric of Várad (Oradea), and in February 1465 he became archbishop of Esztergom.
King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary
At that time, the highly educated prelate considered the foundation of a national institute as his first task, which would make it unnecessary for Hungarians to attend foreign universities. At his own expense, he laid the foundations of a four-faculty university in Pozsony (1465, Academia Istropolitana), for the faculties of which he recruited the most notable scholars from foreign colleges.
Vitéz János
At the same time, he had a splendid palace built in Esztergom and founded a painting and book library. He undoubtedly supported the sciences and arts from his own private wealth, but his generous patronage was mainly due to his influence through King Matthias Corvinus. 
The Gold Forint of King Matthias Corvinus
However, the close relationship between the king and the Primate was not permanent. King Matthias launched the war in Bohemia at the instigation of the Pope and the prelates, and imposed extraordinary burdens on the priests; he levied heavy taxes on them and deprived Vitéz of his income from the mint. The king easily overcame his objections and afterward conspicuously neglected Vitéz.
King Matthias Corvinus
Under these circumstances, when the old enemies of Matthias were plotting against the king, they had no difficulty in winning over Vitéz, with whose help they invited the Polish prince St. Casimir (son of the Polish king Casimir IV) to the Hungarian throne.
However, Beckensloer János, Bishop of Eger, and the Archbishop’s canons accused Vitéz János to the King, who, having learned of the imminent danger, hurried from Bohemia to Hungary and unexpectedly appeared at Esztergom. He then sent Szapolyai Imre and Országh Mihály to Vitéz to settle their differences peacefully (late 1471).
The tombstone of Palatine Szapolyai Imre (+1487) in Szepeshely
Vitéz, who by this time had become a cardinal, accepted the peace offer made to him; both parties mutually promised forgiveness for the injuries suffered, the king assured the archbishop and his relatives of no harm, and in return, the archbishop undertook to destroy several new fortresses and to provide a relief army against Casimir.
Vitéz János
But Vitéz soon gave Matthias another opportunity to distrust him, and the king had him arrested and placed under guard at Visegrád. He was sent back to Esztergom (1472) by the request of the papal envoy and the high-ranked noblemen, but here he was placed under the supervision of Bishop Beckensloer János of Eger, to whom he also entrusted the government of the Esztergom archbishopric (from 1474 he became archbishop). Vitéz died soon after.
The statue of Vitéz János

The  published works of Vitéz János were the next:

Oratio ad Sixtum III.

Epistolae in diversis negortis…

Fraknói Vilmos: Vitéz János nagyváradi püspök politikai beszédei stb. (Budapest, 1878); the same was printed in Latin in Vienna in 1878

The letters and political speeches of Vitéz János can be read here: https://mek.oszk.hu/06200/06214/

The tombstone of Vitéz János
Source: Hungarian Wikipedia 

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