III. The Postclassical Period, 500–1500 > F. Europe, 461–1500 > 7. Eastern Europe, 1300–1500 > d. Hungary
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
(See 1290–1301)
d. Hungary
At the beginning of the 14th century, Hungary was already an essentially feudal country, in which the great magnates and the bishops, richly endowed with land, ruled as virtually independent potentates (“little kings”), while the lower nobility, organized in the Comitats (provincial governments), had, to a large degree, control of the administration. The nobility, freed of taxation, was responsible for defense, but acted only as it saw fit.  1
The extinction of the Arpad dynasty led to a period of conflict, during which Czech, German, and Italian parties each attempted to put their candidates on the throne. Wenceslas (Vaclav), son of the king of Bohemia, 13 years old, was first elevated, but could not maintain himself, nor could Otto of Bavaria.  2
CHARLES I (Charles Robert of Anjou), a grandson of Maria, the daughter of Stephen V, was elected and founded the brilliant and successful Anjou line. Charles established his capital at Visegrad and introduced Italian chivalry and Western influences. After 15 years of effort, he succeeded in subduing the “little kings,” of whom Matthias of Csak and Ladislas of Transylvania were the most powerful. Recognizing the hopelessness of suppressing the nobility entirely, he regulated its position and obliged it to furnish specified contingents to the army. Regulation of taxation (first direct tax); encouragement of towns and trade.  3
LOUIS (Lajos the Great), the son of Charles, a patron of learning who established a brilliant court at Buda. He attempted to solidify the position of his house in Naples and embarked on a successful expedition to Italy to avenge the murder of his brother Andrew (1347). In conjunction with Genoa, he carried on a long struggle with Venice, which ended in the Peace of 1381: Venice ceded Dalmatia and paid tribute. In the east the Hungarian power made itself felt throughout the Balkans: Serbia, Wallachia, and Moldova recognized the suzerainty of Louis; foundation of the border districts (banats) south of the Danube and the Sava, as protection against the Turkish advance.  4
Louis became king of Poland but paid little attention to his new obligations. In Hungary he continued the work of his father: the jus aviticum (1351) restricted the freedom of the great magnates to dispose of their property.  5
Maria of Anjou, queen. She was married to Sigismund of Luxemburg, who became guardian of the kingdom. His position was challenged by Charles of Durazzo and Naples, who had many adherents, especially in southern Hungary and Croatia.  6
Charles II (of Naples). He was assassinated after a very brief reign, which led to a new revolt in Croatia.  7
SIGISMUND (of Luxemburg), who became German emperor in 1410 and king of Bohemia in 1436. His reign marked a great decline in the royal power, due to his constant absence from the country and his practice of selling royal domains to get money for his far-reaching schemes elsewhere. In general Sigismund relied on the towns and lesser nobility against the great magnates. Hence the grant of ever greater rights to the smaller nobles.  8
The disastrous battle of Nicopolis against the Turks (See 1396). Loss of Dalmatia to the Venetians. Hussite invasions of Hungary, resulting from Sigismund's attempts to gain the Bohemian throne.  9
Albert (Albrecht) of Habsburg, son-in-law of Sigismund, also German emperor and king of Bohemia. He was obliged to sign far-reaching capitulations (nobles not obliged to fight beyond the frontiers).  10
First victory of John Hunyadi over the Turks. Hunyadi was a powerful frontier lord and patriot.  11
Vladislav (Vlászló) I (Vladislav VI of Poland), a weak ruler whose reign was distinguished chiefly by the continued victories of Hunyadi (1443). Crusade against the Ottomans (See 1438–44).  12
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.