Palatine Pálffy János (1664-1751)
The Peace of Szatmár, the end of the War of Independence
King Joseph I of Hungary was inclined to compromise with the Hungarians based on his experience of the War of the Spanish Succession. In 1710, the president of the Court Military Council, the hero of the Turkish wars, Prince Eugen von Sacoy, appointed a Pálffy, a major-general, to head the imperial forces in Hungary, who initiated negotiations in a letter to Károlyi Sándor on 14 November 1710. Rákóczi allowed Károlyi to contact Pálffy to stall for time. This resulted in an eight-day truce between the two armies on 13 January 1711, which was extended several times.
On 31 January, Prince Rákóczi himself received Pálffy at the castle in Vaja, and on 21 February 1711, he traveled to Poland to negotiate with the Tsar. In his absence, he authorized his commander-in-chief, Sándor Károlyi, to continue the negotiations just to gain time. However, a broader agreement was reached between Károlyi and Pálffy, and the Kuruc commander-in-chief committed himself to the peace treaty on 14 March, secretly swearing an oath of allegiance to the Emperor. Károlyi had to restrain the officers from surrendering individually in order to negotiate favorable terms. But Rákóczi and the remnants of the Valiant Order (the warriors of the Borderland), confident of external help, wanted to continue the struggle. Károlyi called a meeting in Szatmárnémeti, where they decided in favor of peace.
On April 26, 1711, the guard of Kassa (Kaschau, Košice), obeying Károlyi’s persuasion, surrendered to the troops of Baron Ebergényi László, the Imperial Lieutenant General, without firing a single shot. The Kuruc general finally laid down his arms on the Majtény plain without the prince’s consent, and on 1 May 1711, he concluded the Peace of Szatmár (Satu Mare), the text of which still bears the “handprint” of Pálffy. The Peace of Szatmár promised impunity for the Kuruc troops. According to the military historian Mészáros Kálmán, Károlyi made good peace against Rákóczi.
In the Peace of Szatmár, the Emperor granted a public pardon, and the Kuruc soldiers were allowed to return home, keeping their weapons. The King guaranteed the liberties of Hungary and Transylvania. He promised to restore the constitution, to allow the free exercise of religion, and to convene a Diet. Foreign institutions and dignities that had offended the orders were abolished. Pálffy had the unquestionable merit that Emperor Joseph I and his successor Charles III (r. 1711-1740) offered the Kuruc forces extremely lenient terms compared to the existing military situation, thus making the treaty lasting and beneficial to both parties.
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