Selected Passages from Hungarian-Ottoman Wars

King Szapolyai János (1487-1540)

Szapolyai János (German: Johann Zápolya) was born in 1487 in Szepesváralja, and died in Szászsebes, 17/21 July 1540. His father, Szapolyai István, was a nobleman and Palatine of Hungary between 1492 and 1499. János’ mother was Princess Hedvig of Teschen, daughter of Prince Přemislav II of Teschen and Princess Anna of Mazovia, and grandson of Prince Boleslav IV of Mazovia. His sister was Queen Barbara of Poland. Also, he had a brother György who was commander of the Hungarian army in 1526 and was killed in the Battle of Mohács. 
Szapolyai János came from the influential House of Szapolyai, and he was the Voivode of Transylvania from 1510 to 1526, and later king of Hungary as King János I, until his death. He was the son of Princess Hedvig of Teschen and Palatine Szapolyai István, the richest chieftain of early modern Hungary. Legend says, that Szapolyai István picked his child up into his arms when King Matthias died in Vienna in 1490, the oligarch said: “Were you ten years older, I would make you king of Hungary!” And indeed, they brought up János as it was befitting of a future king. 

No wonder, he was also the main contender for the throne by decree of the Diet of Rákos in 1505 because the assembled noblemen decided that no foreign king would be elected after the Jagiellonian kings. Thus, János was the candidate for the throne, supported by the crowds of the party of the common and medium-sized nobility. However, Lajos (Louis II), son of King Ulászló II, was born in 1516 so the decision of the Diet of Rákos did not come into effect.

As he was the Voivode of Transylvania, he was also responsible for the suppression of Dózsa György’s uprising, which he did in 1514 at the Battle of Temesvár with the army he had tried the previous year at the siege of the castle of Szendrő in the Lower Danube. The crushing of the rebellion strengthened his authority in several ways: on the one hand, he had opposed from the outset the crusade launched by Bakócz Tamás on 16 April 1514 which triggered Dózsa’s uprising, and on the other, the crushing of the rebellious peasants increased his influence among the middle nobility and the baronial class. He executed the leaders of the uprising with particular cruelty and took part in the creation of punishing laws against the peasants, but later he regretted it. In the years that followed, during the Jagello era, he was involved in the turbulent state of the country and in the various party struggles, which he sought to use to his own advantage to pave the way for his election as king.

In the 1520s, there were three separate military forces in Hungary, which in itself indicates feudal fragmentation. In addition to the king’s army, another army was commanded by Palatine Báthori István, and Szapolyai János, the Transylvanian Voivode had an army, too. In 1515, the Palatine and the Voivode were already raiding the southern Borderland of the kingdom. However, their aim was not to launch an anti-Turkish war (campaign) but to undermine the (third) Jagiello-Habsburg dynastic treaty of 1515.

In the event of their insignificant success in the war, the authority of the Habsburg party would have been severely undermined. “The Fugger banking house’s representative in Hungary wrote to his boss: if the Voivode had won at Zsarnó, the Hungarians would have reclaimed Anna and given her to the Voivode, and nothing would have come of the treaty… if he had succeeded in winning, he would have gained the glory of the throne and would have been given the king’s daughter as his wife.”

However, the siege failed, but it did draw the Ottomans’ attention to the country. After the death of King Ulászló II, the child Lajos (Louis) II came into power. His guardians were Bornemissza János and George of Brandenburg so the Habsburg orientation of the government was unbroken. Yet, the rest of the country’s leadership (middle and lower nobility) was more in favor of Szapolyai, so the period 1514-1526 was unstable in terms of domestic politics, central power was weak, and everyone obeyed only what they thought was right from the decisions and laws of the Diet.

From 1521 onwards, a permanent Turkish force was stationed in the Szerém region. The southern Borderland castle system established by King Zsigmond (Sigismund) was completely destroyed in a few years; Szabács, Nándorfehérvár, and Zimony were lost. The territorial integrity of the country was already damaged since 1521, with the Turks occupying territories as big as some counties.

In 1522, he helped Radu Afumați to the throne in the Wallachia, who swore allegiance to the Hungarian king through him. Szapolyai did not have good relations with the royal court of Buda, he did not even appear at the 1525 Diet (otherwise he had just lost a battle with the Turks on the border of the Temes Dukedom), and according to his contemporaries he lived in Transylvania as an “internal exile”. His distress was growing by the fact that Palatine Werbőczy István made a decision against him in favor of the Habsburgs, and he could not get the inheritance (a huge domain and treasure) of the Újlaki family. At the same time, King Louis demanded the return of his pledged royal estates.

 

 

In 1526, at the news of the approach of Sultan Suleiman I, he set off with his Transylvanian troops for Mohács but did not arrive on the battlefield. His army (which, according to some exaggerated estimates, numbered 40,000, but in reality, only 10-15,000) was stranded at Szeged.

According to some, he has still an unclear role in the Battle of Mohács. Others believe that he had goodwill, but because of the king’s contradictory orders, he ‘missed’ the battle of Mohács. There are those who believe that he deliberately delayed the battle, letting his monarch down on the battlefield of Mohács out of the cold calculation, thus paving the way for his rise to kingship. In fact, since he could not lead his army to Mohács, he set off alone to take part in the battle with Tomori Pál but he was late, nevertheless. Regarding the death of King Lajos II, the Chronicle of Szerémi György says that it was Szapolyai György, the brother of János who killed the king at Székcső, after the battle but the value of this source is debated by Hungarian historians. 

The Battle of Mohács can also be assessed by the rate of losses in the number of high aristocrats: one king, 28 barons, 7 high priests and most of the county priests died. The top and middle levels of the state administration were thus practically extinct, since, for example, the royal council (i.e. the government) was composed of barons and high priests. This caused an immediate crisis of governance and administration. After the death of King Lajos (Louis) II, Szapolyai and his intact army was stranded near Szeged even as the Turks took Buda and then Pest without a sword stroke. The Turks left the country without a battle by 13 October.

He was elected king after the withdrawal of the Turkish armies and crowned on 11 November 1526 at the Diet of Székesfehérvár, in opposition to King Ferdinand I of the House of Habsburg. At that point, he enjoyed 90% of the support of the kingdom’s noblemen and barons. The crowning with the Hungarian Holy Crown was performed by the senior high priest, Bishop Podmaniczky István of Nyitra. According to Hungarian law, only the Palatine (at the time Báthori István) could convene a Diet in the absence of a king, and Báthori had sided with the Habsburgs. Thus, the Diet itself, which elected Szapolyai, was without a title. The reign of Szapolyai was based on a royal council without a Palatine, and it is unprecedented in the history of the country for a monarch not to have a Palatine. He probably did not appoint anyone because it would have meant an open break with the legitimate Palatine who was Báthori István.

 

Szapolyai began to reorganize the kingdom but he was hindered from the beginning by his opponent who instigated the Serbian Cserni Jovan to rebel against him. Szapolyai was able to put down this dangerous and bloody uprising only with the aid of those peasants whom he had punished so severely in 1514. You can read more details about this here:

https://www.hungarianottomanwars.com/1490-1541/1527-cserni-aka-black-or-nenad-jovans-uprising/

 

As propaganda, the Habsburgs began to suggest from 1528 that he had been in contact with the Sultan before 1526. Allegedly, there was a Venetian envoy who heard from a Turkish pasha that Szapolyai had wanted to create his own kingdom in Transylvania with Ottoman aid. However, this rumor has not been credibly proven by historians since then. We know that he had contact with the Sultan only after 1528. 

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His reign was accompanied by warfare with the other king, Ferdinand. Driven out of the country by the Habsburg armies at the end of 1527, he fled to Poland and was forced to turn to the Sublime Porte for help. You can read about the details of his negotiations on my page:

https://www.hungarianottomanwars.com/1490-1541/1527-the-negotiations-of-sir-lasky-in-istanbul/

In 1529, Suleiman marched to Hungary, retook Buda, and gave the country back to him. Suleiman, therefore, chose the Hungarian national king because he wanted to have a vassal ruler to make the Hungarians accept Turkish rule.

Szapolyai ruled the country with a heavy hand, restoring the medieval Hungarian system of government. Under pressure from the Turks, he had Ludovico Gritti, a Venetian-born adventurer and loyal member of the Porta elected as governor in 1530. However, the Venetian, who later fell from Suleiman’s grace, was murdered by a large section of the Hungarian nobility in 1534.

In the meantime, the two kings realized that their wars against each other favored only the Turks, and in February 1538 they concluded a secret peace treaty at Várad. If Szapolyai died, even if he had a son, Ferdinand would inherit his whole kingdom. The following year, Szapolyai married (he was over 50) the daughter of the Polish king, Isabella. In June 1540 he had a son, but the king could no longer see his successor. He traveled to Transylvania to put down the Transylvanian rebellions of Mayláth István, Balassa Ferenc, and Kendy Ferenc. A not long time after receiving the news of his newborn son, he suffered a stroke. Before his death, he asked his loyal servant Fráter György to recognize his son János Zsigmond as king. He was buried in Székesfehérvár.

Halála után az ország százötven évre három részre szakadt, a Habsburg-család által kormányzott Magyar Királyságra, az Oszmán Birodalom részét képző török hódoltságra, és a Szapolyai által birtokolt keleti területekből a speyeri szerződéssel 1570-ben megalakuló Erdélyi Fejedelemségre.

Source: Szibler Gábor and Wikipedia 

 

King János retained his throne with the support of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman I until his death, but despite his best efforts, he was unable to change the status quo of the Dual Kingship. After his death, the country was divided into three parts for a hundred and fifty years: the Kingdom of Hungary, ruled by the Habsburg family, the Ottoman Occupied Lands were part of the Ottoman Empire, and there was Szapolyai’s Eastern Hungarian Kingdom. It eventually became the Principality of Transylvania, formed in 1570 by the Treaty of Speyer from the eastern territories held by Szapolyai’s son.

A francia–magyar szövetség megkötését követően felmerült, hogy Szapolyai János király felesége I. Ferenc francia király rokona, Navarrai Izabella lesz. Ez a házasság azonban ismeretlen okok miatt nem köttetett meg, sokáig úgy tűnt, Szapolyai gyermektelenül fog elhunyni. Ezért a korábban dúló polgárháborús helyzetet lezáró 1538-as békeszerződés értelmében halála után I. Ferdinándra hagyta volna az általa birtokolt területeket. Végül 1539-ben feleségül vette I. Zsigmond lengyel király leányát, Jagelló Izabellát, akitől egyetlen fia és örököse, János Zsigmond származott. Végakarata szerint, semmibe véve a korábban megkötött váradi békét, fia követte a trónon.

After the conclusion of the Franco-Hungarian alliance, it was suggested that King János Szapolyai’s wife would be a relative of King Francis I of France, Isabella of Navarre. However, for unknown reasons, this marriage was not consummated, and for a long time, it seemed that Szapolyai would die childless. Therefore, the peace treaty of 1538, which ended the civil war that had raged earlier, would have left the territories he held to Ferdinand I upon his death. Finally, in 1539, he married the daughter of King Sigismund I of Poland, Isabella of Jagello, who was the father of his only son and heir, John Sigismund. His son succeeded him on the throne, in defiance of the earlier Treaty of Wroclaw.

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Szapolyaival szemben Habsburg Ferdinánd a Jagelló-Habsburg dinasztikus szerződés alapján tekintette magát a magyar trón örökösének. Valójában a legitimitás elvének megfelelően II. Lajos nagybátyja, I. Zsigmond lengyel király volt a Magyar Királyság törvényes örököse, és nem II. Lajos sógora, Ferdinánd. Másrészt Ferdinánd legitimációjának az 1505-ös rákosi végzés okiratában
foglaltak és a Szent Korona hiánya volt az akadálya, amely Szapolyainál volt. Alig egy hónappal később összeült Pozsonyban 13 magyarországi főnemes és főpap, akik Habsburg Ferdinándot választották meg magyar királynak. Ezt az országgyűlést Báthori István nádor hívta össze. A pozsonyi gyűlésen részt vevő főurakat név szerint lehet ismerni. Ezen az országgyűlésen Ferdinánd valódi jogcím alatt szerezte meg a magyar királyságot, hisz törvényes országgyűlés választotta meg (electio). 1526 decemberétől az országnak két királya volt: I. János néven Szapolyai, az 1505. évi rákosi végzés alapján a székesfehérvári országgyűlésen választott király és I. Ferdinánd.

Unlike Sapolya, Ferdinand Habsburg considered himself the heir to the Hungarian throne on the basis of the Jagiello-Habsburg dynastic treaty. In fact, in accordance with the principle of legitimacy, it was Louis II’s uncle, King Sigismund I of Poland, who was the legitimate heir to the Kingdom of Hungary, and not Louis II’s brother-in-law Ferdinand. On the other hand, Ferdinand’s legitimacy is confirmed by the deed of the 1505 Edict of Rákos and the lack of the Holy Crown, which was in Szapolyai’s possession.

Barely a month later, 13 nobles and high priests of Hungary met in Pozsony (Pressburg, Bratislava) and elected Ferdinand Habsburg as King of Hungary. This Diet was called by Palatine Báthori István. Let us note, that after the Battle of Mohács Báthori fled straight to Dévény castle which controlled the Danube above Pozsony. It was the reason why Ferdinand could enter Hungary undisturbed at all. The few lords who attended the Diet in Pozsony are known by name. From December 1526, the country had two kings: Szapolyai, under the name of János I, elected king at the Diet of Székesfehérvár on the basis of the decree of Rákos in 1505, and Ferdinand I.

Szapolyai János uralkodása egy külpolitikai kudarccal kezdődött: bár a II. Lajos halálával megüresedett cseh trónra bejelentette igényét, azonban a cseh, morva és sziléziai területek Ferdinánd osztrák főherceg kezére kerültek. Bácson a félkatonai tömbökbe letelepített, Szerbiából menekülő szerbek fellázadtak Habsburg Ferdinánd udvarának biztatására. A Cserni Jován vezette felkelést
leverték. A Habsburgok nagyon értették a divide et impera (oszd meg és uralkodj) jelszavát. Közvetlenül a felkelés után elindult Ferdinánd serege Szapolyai ellen és ettől kezdve lényegében állandósult polgárháborús helyzet alakult ki a két király hívei között, akik nem ritkán birtokaik gyarapítása reményében pártot váltottak.

The reign of János Szapolyai began with a foreign policy failure: although he had declared his claim to the Czech throne, which had become vacant with the death of Louis II, the territories of Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia fell into the hands of the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand. In Bača, Serbs fleeing from Serbia and settled in paramilitary blocks revolted at the encouragement of Ferdinand Habsburg’s court. The uprising, led by Jovan of Czerni
was defeated. The Habsburgs understood the motto divide et impera (divide and rule) very well. Immediately after the uprising, Ferdinand’s army marched against Szapolyai and from then on a situation of civil war essentially became permanent between the supporters of the two kings, who often switched sides in the hope of increasing their possessions.

1527. május 6-án V. Károly német–spanyol serege elfoglalta Rómát. Ez a világpolitikai esemény élesen világítja meg Szapolyai külpolitikai elszigeteltségét. A pápai állam a Habsburg-ellenes cognaci liga tagja volt, és Szapolyai a már megvert ligához kívánt csatlakozni. Ez egyben egyfajta török orientációt is jelentett, hiszen a cognaci ligának Szulejmán kvázi-szövetségese volt. Még ebben a hónapban – nyilván a külpolitikai akció nyomán – V. Károly hadjáratot indított Szapolyai ellen. 1527. augusztus 15-én tényleges
ostrom nélkül hagyta el Budát, egészen Tokajig hátrált, ahol néhány ezer landsknecht utolérte és legyőzte csapatait. Szapolyai Debrecenbe, majd Erdélybe menekült.

On 6 May 1527, the German-Spanish army of Charles V captured Rome. This event in world politics sheds a sharp light on the isolation of Sapolya’s foreign policy. The papal state was a member of the anti-Hapsburg League of Cognacs, and Sapolya wished to join the already defeated league. This also meant a kind of Turkish orientation, since Suleiman was a quasi-allie of the Cognacian League. In the same month, obviously as a result of this foreign policy action, Charles V launched a campaign against Szapolyai. On 15 August 1527
Buda without an actual siege retreated as far as Tokaj, where a few thousand landsknechts caught up and defeated his troops. Szapolyai fled to Debrecen and then to Transylvania.

Az Erdélybe szorított Szapolyai újabb bázist próbált kiépíteni, hogy visszavágjon a főhercegnek. Új sereget állított fel, melyhez több ezer lengyel zsoldost toborzott és követséget menesztett I. Ferenchez. Pénzbeli segítséget kért Velencétől és a pápától, de nem járt sikerrel. 1528 októberében Fontainebleauben szövetségre lépett a francia uralkodóval, I. Ferenccel, pénzügyi és diplomáciai
támogatáshoz jutva. Azonban I. Ferenctől nem kapott katonai támogatást (az tőle várta el a Habsburgok keleti lekötését), ráadásul a francia király az oszmánokkal való megegyezésre buzdította. A francia–magyar szövetség eredményeként 1532-ben felmerült a házassággal való megpecsételés is, amelynek értelmében Szapolyai feleségül venné I. Ferenc francia király egy nőrokonát, a sógorának, II. (Albret) Henrik navarrai királynak az akkor 18–19 éves húgát, Izabellát, aki Candale-i Anna magyar királynénak, II. Lajos magyar király édesanyjának volt az unokahúga. A tervezett frigy azonban ismeretlen okok miatt nem jött végül létre.

Squeezed into Transylvania, Szapolyai tried to build another base to fight back against the Archduke. He raised a new army, recruited thousands of Polish mercenaries, and sent an envoy to Francis I. He asked Venice and the Pope for financial aid but was unsuccessful. In October 1528, in Fontainebleau, he made an alliance with the French Emperor, Francis I, to obtain financial and diplomatic
and financial support. However, he did not receive military support from Francis I (who was expected to tie up the Habsburgs in the east) and the French king urged him to make a deal with the Ottomans. As a result of the Franco-Hungarian alliance, in 1532, the idea of sealing the alliance by marriage was mooted, whereby Szapolyai would marry a female relative of King Francis I of France, the then 18-19-year-old sister of his brother-in-law, King Henry II (Albret) of Navarre, Isabella, who was the niece of Anne of Candale, the Hungarian queen and mother of King Louis II of Hungary. However, for unknown reasons, the planned marriage did not take place.

1528. március 20-án a szinai csatában János király erői döntő vereséget szenvedtek. Szapolyai 1528 végére teljesen kiszorult az országból, a lengyelországi Tarnów várába emigrált. Ekkor már a marosvásárhelyi gyűlés és a brassói népgyűlés is Ferdinándot fogadta el uralkodónak. Az ország nagy részén a Habsburg főherceg uralkodott, akit immár magyar törvények szerint is királlyá koronáztak Fehérváron, mivel kezébe került a Korona is – jellemző módon a Szapolyai által erdélyi vajdának kinevezett Perényi Péter koronaőr révén, aki szintén átállt Ferdinánd pártjára. Ferdinánd hátterét az osztrák tartományok és a cseh királyság, valamint fivére V. Károly német-római császár és spanyol király jelentették. Szapolyai Bajorországhoz, a lengyel királyhoz, I. Ferenc francia királyhoz, a pápához és egy sor más államhoz menesztett követet, de nem kapott támogatást.

On 20 March 1528, King John’s forces suffered a decisive defeat at the Battle of Sina. By the end of 1528, Szapolyai had been completely driven out of the country and had emigrated to the castle of Tarnów in Poland. By this time, both the Assembly of Tarnów and the Assembly of the People of Brasov had already accepted Ferdinand as their ruler. Most of the country was ruled by the Habsburg Archduke, who was now crowned king in Fehérvár under Hungarian law, as the Crown had also been transferred to him – typically through the crown guard Peter Perényi, appointed by Szapolyai as Transylvanian Viceroy, who also sided with Ferdinand. Ferdinand’s backing came from the Austrian provinces and the Kingdom of Bohemia, as well as his brother Charles V, the German-Roman Emperor and King of Spain. Sapolya sent envoys to Bavaria, the King of Poland, King Francis I of France, the Pope, and a number of other states, but received no support.

1527-ben már el is indította követét, Hieronym Łaskit a Portára, minthogy más választása nem maradt, I. Szulejmántól kért segítséget, akivel szövetséget is kötött (1528. január 27.). 1529-ben először a moldvai vajda tört be Erdélybe, ahol legyőzte Ferdinándot. 1529. május 10-én I. Szulejmán oszmán szultán hatalmas hadsereggel elindította második magyarországi hadjáratát, melynek célja a német-római császári székhely, Bécs meghódítása volt. A törökök benyomultak Magyarországra és kiszorították Ferdinánd erőit. A szultán és a nagyvezíre Pargali Ibrahim pasa a Mohácsi csata helyszínén hódoltatták Szapolyait a magyarok királyaként.

In 1527, he had already sent his envoy, Hieronym Łaski, to the Porte, but he had no choice but to ask Suleiman I for help, with whom he concluded an alliance (27 January 1528). On 10 May 1529, the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman I launched his second campaign in Hungary with a huge army, aiming to conquer Vienna, the seat of the German-Roman Empire. The Turks invaded Hungary and pushed Ferdinand’s forces out. The sultan and his grand vizier, Pargali Ibrahim Pasha, paid homage to Szapolyai as king of the Hungarians at the site of the Battle of Mohács.

„az uralkodó őfelsége (Szulejmán) tiszteletből felkelvén trónjáról, három lépésnyire (Szapolyai) elé ment. Amint a kezét megcsókolta, leült egy székre; Ibrahim pasa is leült, míg Ajasz és Kaszim pasák állva maradtak. Amint kiment, négy kaftánnal és három, egészen aranyos szerszámú lóval ajándékoztatott meg. Ezért ismét bement és kezet csókolt.”
– Részlet Szulejmán naplójából Szapolyai hódoltatásáról

“the emperor, His Majesty (Suleiman), rising from his throne out of respect, went three paces in front of (Sapolya). As soon as he had kissed his hand, he sat down on a chair; Ibrahim Pasha also sat down, while Ajaz and Qasim Pasha remained standing. As soon as he went out, he presented me with four caftans and three horses with a very fine harnesses. So he went in again and kissed his hand.”
– Excerpt from Suleiman’s diary of his homage to Sapolya

1529. szeptember 3-án Budához érkezett és letáborozott a török had. A törökök megostromolták a Ferdinánd katonasága által védett várat és néhány nap alatt elfoglalták. Nádasdy Tamás a vár eleste után török fogságba esett. A szultán ezután hadseregével tovább indult Bécs elfoglalására, de előtte még hivatalosan visszahelyezte Jánost a magyar trónra, átadta neki a birtokába jutott magyar Szent Koronát és átadta Buda várát is Szapolyainak. Szapolyai nem vett részt az Ausztria elleni támadásban, mert katonai ereje nem volt hozzá. Viszont ekkor megpróbálta lerázni magáról Szulejmánt. A török szövetség természetesen nem felebaráti szívességből fakadt, a török porta egy idő után úgy látta jónak, ha saját megbízottját is János király környezetében tartja. Lodovico Gritti kalandos
életútját ekképpen tudta betetőzni Magyarország kormányzójává való kinevezésével. (Kormányzót a király kiskorúsága esetére szokott a rendi országgyűlés választani, az 1485. évi nádori cikkek értelmében ráadásul a kormányzói tisztség a nádort illeti, amikor be van töltve a nádori pozíció.)

On 3 September 1529, the Turkish army arrived and camped in Buda. The Turks stormed the castle, which was defended by Ferdinand’s army, and captured it in a few days. Tamás Nádasdy was taken prisoner by the Turks after the fall of the castle. The Sultan then moved his army to conquer Vienna, but before he did so, he formally restored János to the Hungarian throne, handed over the Hungarian Holy Crown to him, and gave the castle of Buda to Szapolyai. Szapolyai did not participate in the attack on Austria because he did not have the military strength to do so. He did, however, try to shake off Suleiman. The Turkish alliance was not, of course, a neighborly favor; after a while, the Turkish Porte saw fit to keep its own envoy in King John’s entourage. The adventurous life of Lodovico Gritti
(Governors were usually elected by the Diet in the event of the king’s minority, and the 1485 Articles of the Order of the Nobility stipulated that the office of governor was to be given to the noble when the office of noble was filled.)

Bár voltak kísérletek a két király közötti béke megteremtésére, ezek eleinte csak fegyverszüneti megállapodásokat eredményeztek. Ebben a helyzetben a magyar nemesség nagy része az úgynevezett királytalan országgyűléseken próbált megoldást találni a kaotikus
helyzetre, eredmény nélkül. Közben Gritti kétszínű játékot kezdett űzni vele, amely már majdnem a hatalmát veszélyeztette. Szapolyai nem tudta először miként szabaduljon meg tőle, mert Gritti Pargali Ibrahim nagyvezír személyes jó barátja volt, s ha Gritti
ellen fellép, azzal akár két tűz közé szorul Ferdinánd és Szulejmán között. Végül az erdélyiek távolították el az útból Grittit. Ezt az incidenst Ferdinánd megint a maga javára használta, és Szulejmánnál próbálta elérni, hogy forduljon Szapolyai ellen.

Although there were attempts to make peace between the two kings, these initially resulted in truce agreements. In this situation, the majority of the Hungarian nobility tried to find a solution to the chaotic situation in the so-called kingless assemblies.
the situation, without success. Meanwhile, Gritti began to play a double game with him, which almost threatened his power. Sapolyai did not know how to get rid of him at first, because Gritti was a personal friend of Grand Vizier Ibrahim Pargali, and if Gritti
he would be caught between Ferdinand and Suleiman. Eventually, the Transylvanians got Gritti out of the way. Ferdinand again used this incident to his advantage and tried to get Suleiman to turn against Sapolya.

Végül hosszas tárgyalások után, 1538-ban a váradi békével jutott nyugvópontra az évtizedes belviszály. Ebben a két király kölcsönösen elismerte egymás területeit a status quo alapján, és megállapodtak abban, hogy János halála után az országrészét Ferdinánd, illetve utódai öröklik. Ugyanakkor János király még a következő évben házasságot kötött Jagelló Izabellával és akitől egy év múlva fia született, János Zsigmond István néven. A királynak viszont nem maradt sok ideje fia nevelésére, születése után két héttel meghalt. Fráter György későbbi előadása szerint halálos ágyán megeskette hű tanácsadóját, hogy nem tartja be a váradi béke passzusát, hanem fiát, János Zsigmondot juttatja a trónra, ami végzetes lett az országra nézve. Szapolyai főemberei három különböző álláspontot képviseltek. Volt, aki szerint a váradi békét életbe kell léptetni. Volt, aki szerint Ferdinándnak csak akkor kell átadni a trónt, ha erővel próbálja érvényesíteni jogát. A Fráter-féle álláspont – a váradi béke teljes elvetéséről – a harmadik, és ez győzedelmeskedett.

Finally, after long negotiations, the peace of 1538 brought decades of internal strife to an end. In it, the two kings mutually recognized each other’s territories on the basis of the status quo and agreed that after John’s death, his part of the country would be inherited by Ferdinand and his successors. However, the following year, King John married Isabella of Jagello, and a year later she gave birth to a son, János Zsigmond István. The king, however, did not have much time left to raise his son, who died two weeks after his birth. According to a later account by George Frater, on his deathbed he made his loyal adviser swear that he would not abide by the terms of the Peace of Wroclaw, but would put his son, John Sigismund, on the throne, which would prove fatal for the country. Sapolya’s chief men took three different positions. Some argued that the Peace of Vratislav should be enforced. Some argued that Ferdinand should only be given the throne if he tried to assert his right by force. The Frater position – to reject the Peace of Wallachia altogether – was the third, and it prevailed.

Az emiatt kirobbant újabb háború során 1541-ben a Habsburg csapatok el akarták foglalni Budát. A Szapolyai-párti magyarok azonban szétverték a betolakodókat. A törökök szultánja elindította csapatait, azzal a céllal, hogy a Habsburg csapatokkal szálljon szembe. Habsburg csapatok ugyan nem voltak jelen, amire a törökök Buda várához érkeztek, de ennek ellenére csellel elfoglalták
Budát. Szapolyai a megbukott országot nem kormányozhatta erős kézzel. Az állandó viszálykodások és főúri klikkek tönkretették Magyarországot. Szapolyai maga is részt vállalt a belviszályokban, a kiélezett szembenállása másokkal éppúgy hozzájárult az ország hanyatlásához.

In 1541, during the new war that broke out because of this, the Habsburg troops wanted to occupy Buda. But the pro-Sapolyai Hungarians crushed the invaders. The Sultan of the Turks sent his troops to confront the Habsburg troops. No Habsburg troops were present when the Turks arrived at Buda Castle, but they nevertheless captured it by trickery
Buda. Szapolyai could not rule the failed country with a strong hand. Constant feuds and feudal cliques ruined Hungary. Szapolyai himself took part in the internal strife, and his fierce antagonism with others contributed to the country’s decline.

A köztudatban mindmáig nem alakult ki egyetértés János király politikájával kapcsolatban. Elterjedt nézet, hogy Szapolyai oszmán vazallus volt – bár Szapolyai az 1529 utáni években a törököknek nem fizetett adót. Ugyanakkor riválisa, Ferdinánd király 1533-ban elismerte Szulejmán szultánt a magyarországi ügyek döntőbírájának, míg Szulejmán Ferdinándot jelképesen a fiává fogadta, és Magyarország nyugati részét hűbér gyanánt a kezében hagyta. A Ferdinánd-párti kortársak és a jóval későbbi, Habsburg-párti történészek olyasmivel vádolták Szapolyait (adófizetés, magyarországi ügyekben jóváhagyás kérése a Portától, a „török császár” diplomáciai fölényének elismerése, aki a Habsburg uralkodót „bécsi királynak” címezte), amit a mindenkori bécsi politika is megtett.

There is still no consensus in public opinion about King John’s policies. It is widely believed that Szapolyai was an Ottoman vassal – although Szapolyai did not pay taxes to the Turks in the years after 1529. However, his rival, King Ferdinand, recognised Sultan Suleiman as the arbiter of Hungarian affairs in 1533, while Suleiman symbolically adopted Ferdinand as his son and left the western part of Hungary in his hands as a fief. The pro-Ferdinand contemporaries and much later pro-Hapsburg historians accused Szapolyai of the same things (paying taxes, seeking approval from the Porte in Hungarian affairs, acknowledging the diplomatic superiority of the ‘Turkish emperor’ who addressed the Habsburg monarch as ‘King of Vienna’) that the Viennese policy of the time did.

Csak a tizenöt éves háborút lezáró zsitvatoroki békének köszönhetően vált a Habsburg uralkodó és a padisah a diplomáciában egyenrangúvá. Nem ismert, hogy Szulejmán mikor és miért döntött úgy, hogy a Magyar Királyságot az Oszmán Birodalom részéve teszi. Maga Szulejmán írta egy levelében 1541-ben, hogy a meghódított Magyarország időben túl messzire esett a birodalomtól, ezért bízta annak vezetését Szapolyaira. Ugyanakkor az sem elvethető alternatíva, miszerint Magyarország megszállására kényszerből, a
Habsburg fenyegetés miatt került sor, vagy azt épp csak felvonulási területként és ütközőzónaként használta föl.

It was only thanks to the Peace of Zhitvatork, which ended the Fifteen Years’ War, that the Habsburg monarch and the padishah became equal partners in diplomacy. It is not known when and why Suleiman decided to make the Kingdom of Hungary part of the Ottoman Empire. Suleiman himself wrote in a letter in 1541 that conquered Hungary was too far away from the empire in time, and that he, therefore, entrusted its leadership to Sapolya. However, the alternative is that the occupation of Hungary was forced upon him by force, by the Habsburg threat, or that he was just using Hungary as a staging area and buffer zone.

A történészek Szulejmán magyarországi szándékait illetően a lehető legkülönbözőbb álláspontokat vallják. A kutatásban felvetődött, hogy az oszmánok Magyarország esetén is a balkáni államoknál bevált több szakaszban való terjeszkedés szerint jártak el. Az oszmánok a kiszemelt országban (pl. Szerbia, Bosznia) annak katonai legyőzése után egy török orientációt képviselő kormányzatot
juttattak hatalomra, mielőtt az országot végleg bekebelezték. E szerint az elképzelés szerint Szulejmán azért tette lehetővé Szapolyai uralmát, s azért nem tartotta meg korábban (1529-ben) Budát, hogy a törökpárti irányzatot népszerűvé tegye a végleges megszállás előtt.

Historians take the widest possible variety of views on Suleiman’s intentions in Hungary. The research has suggested that the Ottomans followed the same multi-stage expansion pattern as in the Balkans. After the military defeat of a country (e.g. Serbia, Bosnia), the Ottomans set up a government with a Turkish orientation before annexing the country for good. According to this theory, Suleiman enabled the rule of Sapolya and did not seize Buda earlier (in 1529) in order to make the pro-Turkish orientation popular before the final occupation.

Tény, hogy Szapolyai országrészében már 1529-től török csapatok tartózkodtak, akik nem csupán a Habsburg hadakat tartották távol, hanem a magyar uralkodót is ellenőrizték. A fentiek miatt napjainkban a történészek többsége Szapolyait török vazallusnak tekinti.
A magyar történeti irodalomban gyakran felmerül a Szapolyai-család szlavón vagy horvát származása. Ennek ellentmondani látszik, hogy a Szapolyai-családról a 15. század derekát megelőzően semmit sem tudunk. Valójában Pozsega vármegye (ahol a Szapolyai-család névadó faluja található) közvetlenül a Magyar Királysághoz tartozott, a Dráva–Száva közének keleti részét csak az 1540-es évektől nevezték Szlavóniának. Ráadásul a szlavón tartománygyűlés csak 1558-ban olvadt bele a horvát Száborba, azelőtt a horvát és szlavón nemesség külön identitással rendelkezett.

In fact, Turkish troops had been in Szapolyai’s part of the country since 1529, not only to keep the Habsburg armies at bay but also to control the Hungarian ruler. For these reasons, most historians today regard Szapolyai as a Turkish vassal.
In Hungarian historical literature, the Slavonic or Croatian origin of the Szapolyai family is often mentioned. This seems to be contradicted by the fact that nothing is known about the Szapolyai family before the middle of the 15th century. In fact, the county of Pozsega (where the eponymous village of the Szapolyai family is located) belonged directly to the Kingdom of Hungary, and the eastern part of the Dráva-Száva river basin was called Slavonia only from the 1540s. In addition, the Slavonian Provincial Assembly was only incorporated into the Croatian Sabor in 1558, before which the Croatian and Slavonian nobility had separate identities.

Hasonló toposz, hogy János király környezete, királyi udvara délszlávokból állt. Mint arra Kubinyi András rávilágít, az elképzelést először Szekfű Gyula vetette papírra, ténylegesen Szapolyai János szolgálatában kevés szerb és horvát állt. Szapolyai János szláv királyként való emlegetése a szomszéd népek nacionalista irodalmában is megjelenik. 

1540. július 17. Szapolyai János király halála.
Az erdélyi Szászsebesen meghal I. (Szapolyai) János király.

It is a similar topos that King John’s entourage, the royal court, was made up of Southern Slavs. As András Kubinyi points out, the idea was first put on paper by Gyula Szekfű, but in fact, there were few Serbs and Croats in the service of János Szapolyai. The reference to János Szapolyai as a Slavic king also appears in the nationalist literature of neighboring peoples. 

17 July 1540 Death of King János Szapolyai.
King János I (Szapolyai) dies in Sassese, Transylvania.

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