FREE Catholic Classes
GEOGRAPHY AND MATERIAL CONDITIONS
The Kingdom of Hungary, or "Realm of the Crown of St. Stephen ", situated between 14º 25' and 26º 25' E. longitude, and between 44º 10' and 49º 35' N. latitude, includes, besides Hungary Proper and Transylvania, the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia and a territory known as the Military Frontier. The total area is 125,430 square miles, of which 16,423 belong to the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia. Of a population of 19,254,559 (census of 1900) 51.5 per cent were Catholics. The population of the capital, Budapest, situated on both sides of the Danube, is about 800,000.
The southern boundary of the kingdom is the River Save, which separates it from Bosnia and Servia as far east as the Rumanian frontier, from which point the artificial boundary of Rumania continues along the south, turning north-east, and then north. On the north lies Galicia; on the north-west, Moravia ; on the west Lower Austria, Styria, and Carniola. Some 43,000 square miles are occupied by the Great and the Little Hungarian Alföld, two great plains enclosed by the Alps and the Carpathians. The country is drained by the Danube and its tributaries the Save and Drave, on the right bank, and, on the left, the Theiss, which in its turn receives the waters of the Maros. The chief industry is agriculture (including forestry), which supports nearly 13,000,000 persons. The chief crops are wheat and maize. Manufacturing industries employ 12.8 per cent of the wage-earning population. Mining (lignite, pig iron, coal, and gold being the chief items) in 1906 employed 72,290 persons and produced a revenue of 116,000,000 Kronen ($23,200,000). Grazing also contributes largely to the national wealth.
FREE Catholic Classes Pick a class, you can learn anything
HISTORY (1) From Early Times to the Battle of Mohács ( 1526 )
Even in the earliest ages the territory of the present Kingdom of Hungary was the abode of various races of men. The remains from prehistoric times show that the country was inhabited when the present Hungarian lowlands were covered by the ocean. Half a century before Christ the Thracians occupied Hungary east of the Danube, while Hungary west of the Danube was the home of Celtic and Illyrian tribes. At the opening of the Christian Era the sway of the Romans extended as far as the Danube; Pannonia formed part of the Roman Empire for 400 years, and Dacia for about 150 years. After Rome fell, Hungary, like the other provinces, was affected by the migrations. First came the Huns who built up under King Attila , called "the Scourge of God ", the powerful Hunnish Empire. After the empire of the Huns went to pieces German tribes ruled in Hungary for about 100 years, and they were followed by the Avars. During the supremacy of the Avars, a period of over two hundred years, began the migration of the Slavonic tribes. Moravians, Bulgars, Croato-Serbians, and Poles all sought to overthrow the Avars, but their power was not broken until Charlemagne appeared. The decline of the kingdom of the East Franks, after the death of Charlemagne, was favourable to the development of a great Slavonic power, and Swatopluk, ruler of Great Moravia, thought to establish a permanent Moravian kingdom, but the appearance of the Magyars put an end to these schemes.
There are two opposing theories as to the origin of the Magyars, or native Hungarians. Arminius Vámbéry and his supporters hold to a Turkish origin of the Magyars, while Pál Hunfalvy and his followers place them in the Finno-Ugrian division of languages of a Ural-Altaic stem and look for the original home of the race in the region of the Ural mountains, or the district between the rivers Obi, Irtysh, Kama, and Volga. The presence of Turkish words in the language is explained by the theory that, after leaving their former home, the Hungarians dwelt for some time near Turkish tribes, who were undoubtedly on a higher level of civilization, and from whom these words were borrowed. About the middle of the ninth century, when the Byzantine writers first speak of the Hungarians, calling them "Turci", the Hungarians were in Lebedia, in the territory on the right bank of the Don. From this point they carried on their marauding excursions into the district of the Lower Danube and on these expeditions they sometimes advanced into Germany. Being exposed to attack by the Bisseni, the Hungarians left Lebedia, some returning to the district on the further side of the Volga, while others went towards the west and settled near the Danube, between the Dniester, Sereth Pruth, and Bug Rivers. The Byzantine writers called this region Atelkuzu (Hungarian, Etelköz). While in this neighbourhood the Hungarians undertook an expedition under Arpád in 893 or 894 against Simeon, ruler of the Bulgars. The expedition was successful, but Simeon formed an alliance with the Bisseni, and a fierce attack was made on the Hungarians in which their land was devastated. The Hungarians, therefore, withdrew from this region, went westward, and reached the country where they now live. The date of their entry into Hungary is not certain, apparently it was 895 or 896; neither is the point from which they came positively ascertained. It is not improbable that they entered Hungary from three directions and arrived at different periods. The chronicle of the "anonymous notary of King Béla" ( Anonymus Belœ regis notarius ) has preserved the history of the first occupation of the country, but modern historical investigation shows that little credence can be given the narrative.
The Magyars settled in the neighbourhood of the Danube, and especially in the district on the farther side, as best suited to their occupation, that of cattle-raising. In this region were founded their first towns, the most important of the country, namely, Gran, Székes-Fehérvar, and Buda. At about the same time, under their leader Arpád (died 907), they began once more their marauding expeditions and attacked the countries west of them; these forays, which went as far as Germany, Italy, and France, were continued under Zoltán (907-47), and Taksony (947-72), and did not cease until the land was converted to Catholicism in the reign of Géza. When the Hungarians took possession of the country where they now live, they found a strong Slavonic Catholic Church already in existence in the western part, in Pannonia, where the Christian Faith had been spread partly by German and partly by Italian priests. Methodius, the author of the Slavonic liturgy, endeavoured to introduce the use of the new liturgy here also, but with his death (855) these efforts came to an end. Consequently, the Magyars received their knowledge of Christianity partly from the Catholic population already existing in the country, and partly from the ecclesiastics whom they captured in their marauding expeditions. These forays into the territories farther to the west, which lasted into the tenth century, were a great obstacle to the spread of Christianity, and at the same time the national pride of the Hungarians prevented the acceptance of the religion of the conquered population. Their defeats near Merseburg, in 933, and on the Lech, in 955, put an end to these western expeditions and made the Hungarians more favourable to Christianity.
The opinion that the first efforts for the conversion of the Hungarians were made from Constantinople, because the Magyar commanders Bulcsu and Gyula accepted the Greek faith at Constantinople, rests, as has been proved, on the inventions of Byzantine chroniclers. The conversion of the land to the Catholic Faith was effected, in reality, from the west, and the change began in the ruling family. Duke Géza, who from 970 had been the sole ruler of Hungary, perceived the danger which threatened Hungary, surrounded as it was by Catholic countries, if it continued pagan. He saw that, if Hungary persisted in shutting out Catholicism, it would sooner or later be the prey of the neighbouring peoples. His marriage with Adelaide, sister of the Polish Duke Miezco (Mieczyslaw), brought him closer to the Church, and his conversion is to be attributed to Adelaide's influence. It was through Adelaide's efforts that St. Adalbert, Archbishop of Prague, came to Hungary and, in 985, baptized Géza and his son Vaik; the latter took the name of Stephen in baptism. A large number of the most prominent of Géza's retainers and of his people embraced the Catholic Faith at the same time. Evil results arose, however, from the fact that Adalbert did not at once establish an ecclesiastical organization for Hungary. Moreover, a large proportion of the newly converted adopted the new faith only in externals and retained their heathen customs, offering sacrifices to the old gods. Yet, notwithstanding all this, the new religion continued to spread among the people.
The actual conversion of the country and its ecclesiastical organization was the work of St. Stephen, son of Duke Géza, who succeeded his father in 997. His marriage with Gisela, sister of Duke Henry of Bavaria, gave a powerful impulse to the spread of Catholicism. From Germany came large numbers of priests, nobles, and knights, who settled in Hungary and aided Stephen in converting the country to Christianity. Many obstacles were encountered, and the new religion was spread by the sword. The advance of Christianity was regarded as endangering national interests, and the influx of strangers, together with the favour shown these new settlers by the ruler, seemed to set aside the national influences in the government. Consequently, soon after the accession of Stephen, a revolt led by Koppán broke out, but it was quickly suppressed, with the aid of the foreign knights ; in this way the reputation both of Stephen and of the Church was established in the regions on the farther side of the Danube. To show his gratitude for this victory Stephen built the monastery of Pannonhalma (Martinsberg). Stephen's victory was also followed by the coming of large numbers of German, French, and Italian ecclesiastics to Hungary, which greatly aided the spread of Christianity.
Stephen now undertook the task of providing the land with the necessary ecclesiastical organization. To secure the independence both of the country and of the Church in his dominions, he petitioned Pope Sylvester II, through Abbot Astricus, for the royal dignity and the confirmation of his ecclesiastical acts and ordinances; he also placed his dominion under the protectorate of the Holy See. Sylvester acceded to Stephen's request, sent him a royal crown, and confirmed his ecclesiastical regulations. According to tradition, Stephen also received the title of Apostolic King and Apostolic Legate, the right to have a legate's cross carried before him, and other privileges, but modern investigation has shown that the Bull of Pope Sylvester bestowing these honours is a forgery of the seventeenth century. After the return of Abbot Astricus, Stephen was crowned King of Hungary with the crown sent by the pope at Gran, 17 August, 1001. In settling the organization of the Church he placed at its head the Archdiocese of Gran , giving it as suffragans, Györ (Raab), Veszprém, Pécs (Fünfkirchen), Vácz (Waitzen), and Eger. About 1010 he founded a second archdiocese, that of Kalocsa, which had as suffragans the Dioceses of Bihar, Transylvania, and Marosvár (later Csanád ) which was founded in 1038. In this way the land was divided into ten dioceses, the Archdiocese of Gran being the metropolitan. The Benedictines settled in Hungary during this reign, and Stephen founded the Benedictine monasteries of Pannonhalma (Martinsberg), Zobor, Pécsvárad, Zalavár, and Bakonybél; he also founded numerous other religious houses, including the convent for Greek nuns near Veszprém.
Help Now >
In order to provide for the support of the clergy, Stephen issued edicts concerning church tithes ; he ordained that each tenth township should build a church and provide the priest with suitable land and servants for his support. The king was to supply the churches with all the necessary equipment, while the bishop selected the priests and provided the books needed. The laws of King Stephen also contain ordinances regarding attendance at Mass, observance of the church fasts, etc. With the aid of these laws Stephen brought over almost all of his people to the Catholic Faith, although during this reign measures had often to be taken against pagan movements among the population — as against his uncle Michael (1003), against the Bulgarian prince Kean, and (1025) against Ajton. These revolts, although political in character, were also aimed more or less at the Catholic Faith. Stephen was able to suppress these insurrections, and could, therefore, hope that the Church would meet with no further antagonism. The confusion and wars over the succession, which followed the death of Stephen, and the stormy reigns of Kings Peter and Aba Samü (1038-46) soon brought about a decline of Christianity. A part of the nation sank back into the old heathenism, and in 1046 there was a revolt against the Catholic religion which led to the martyrdom of Bishop Gerhard, who was thrown by the insurgents from the Blocksberg at Buda into the river. The new king, Andrew I (1047-60), either could not or would not act energetically at first, and it was not until after his coronation that he took strong measures against those who had fallen away from the Faith. After his death a small part of the population that was still pagan broke out into revolt, but this rebellion was quickly suppressed by King Béla I (1060-63). The internal disorders during the reigns of King Solomon (1064-74) and King Géza I (1074-77) did great damage to the Christian Faith ; ecclesiastical discipline decayed, and many abuses crept into the Church.
During the reigns of St. Ladislaus (1077-95) and Koloman (1095-1114) the Church was reformed and many ordinances were passed against the prevailing abuses. In particular the synod of Szabolcs (1092) took decided measures against the marriage of priests. Married priests, as a special act of grace, were permitted to exercise priestly functions, but a new marriage was regarded as concubinage and such unions were to be dissolved. The synod also passed ordinances concerning the indissolubility of marriage and the observance of church festivals and Sundays. Other decisions were directed against the still existing pagan manners and customs. After the conquest of Croatia Ladislaus founded the Diocese of Zágráb (Agram). He transferred the see of the Archdiocese of Kalocsa to Bács, and that of the Diocese of Bihar, founded by St. Stephen , to Grosswardein (Nagy-Várad). He founded new churches and monasteries and took measures for the conversion of the Bisseni and Saracens ( Ishmaelites ) who had settled in Hungary. Ladislaus successfully resisted the invasion of the pagan Cumans. During the reign of Koloman the Church was largely under the influence of the royal authority. Koloman claimed the investiture of the bishops for himself, made laws concerning the property of the Church, obliged the bishops to perform military service, etc. At a later date, at the synod of Guastalla, Koloman yielded the right of granting investiture and agreed that the chapters should have freedom in the election of bishops. The reforms of Gregory VII were also adopted in Hungary. The clergy were withdrawn from secular jurisdiction, marriage was regarded as valid only when entered into before a priest, celibacy was enforced, and a number of ordinances beneficial to the religious life were passed.
The chief feature of the reigns of Koloman's successors Stephen II (1114-31), Béla II (1131-41), Géza II (1141-61), and Stephen III (1161-73), was the struggle of Hungary with the Byzantine Empire for national independence. These wars, however, did not check the growth of the Church. One of the most important events of this period was the synod at Gran (1169). It enacted that bishops could not be transferred without the consent of the pope, took the administration of vacant dioceses out of the hands of the laity, and obtained a promise from the king that the property of the Church should only be taken in time of war and then not without the consent of the bishop. It was in this period that the Cistercians, Premonstratensians, and Knights of St. John settled in Hungary; in the thirteenth century these orders were followed by the Dominicans and Franciscans. About 1150 Saxon colonists, of the Catholic Faith, settled in upper Hungary and in Transylvania. The Cistercians grew rapidly in Hungary during the reign of Béla III (1173-96) as the king granted the order the same privileges as it enjoyed in France. Fresh disorders sprang up in Hungary after the death of King Béla III. King Emeric (1196-1204) was engaged in war with his brother Andrew, who coveted the throne, until Emeric's death put an end to the fratricidal struggle.
Andrew II (1205-35), who was now king, was soon involved in a struggle with the oligarchy. At his accession he was obliged to swear to protect the liberties of the land and the independence of the royal dignity. When he failed to observe these obligations, the nobles forced him to issue the Golden Bull (1222), the Magna Charta of Hungary. This instrument confirmed the rights of the nobles and gave them the privilege to take up arms against the king when he failed to observe the conditions here agreed upon, but it did not fulfil the hopes it had raised; its provisions were not carried out, and the disorders continued. Neither did Andrew, who in 1217 took part in an unsuccessful crusade to the Holy Land, observe the agreement confirming the liberty of ecclesiastics, and the Catholic Church saw itself endangered by the continually growing influence exerted over the king by the Ishmaelites and Jews. After all warnings to the king had failed, Archbishop Robert of Gran placed Hungary under an interdict (1232), in order to force the king to put an end to the prevailing abuses and to guard the interests of the Church. The king promised the correction of the abuses and, especially, to guard the interests of the Catholic Church, but he was too weak a man for energetic action. His son Béla IV (1235-70) endeavoured to restore order, above all he tried to carry out the provisions of the Golden Bull, but his efforts were interfered with by an invasion of the Tatars, which nearly ruined the country. After the battle near Muhi (1241), they devastated the entire land; thousands of the inhabitants were massacred, hundreds of churches were plundered and razed to the ground, and six of the dioceses were nearly destroyed. Consequently, when the Tatars left the country, King Béla was obliged to take up the reorganization both of ecclesiastical and secular affairs. The damage suffered was repaired through the self-sacrifice of the royal family and the people; new monasteries and churches were built, those that had been destroyed were restored, and colonists were brought in to repair the losses in population. These colonists were partly Catholic Germans and Bohemians, and partly pagan Cumans. Those of the Cumans who lived apart from the others were soon converted, but the majority held to paganism and did not become Christians until the middle of the fourteenth century.
The last years of the reign of Béla IV were disturbed by a quarrel with the Curia concerning the appointment to the vacant Diocese of Zágráb (Agram) , and by the revolt of his son Stephen, who succeeded him. Stephen V reigned only two years (1270-72); he was followed by his son Ladislaus IV (1272-90) who, when he came to the throne, was still a minor. In this reign efforts were made to restore church discipline that had fallen into decay during the disorders of the previous years. For this decline of church discipline and of ecclesiastical conditions the pagan Cumans were largely responsible; they wandered about the land plundering and damaging the churches. The king was on good terms with them and maintained relations with Cumanian women ; his example was followed by others. It is not surprising that under the circumstances disorders broke out once more in Hungary, and that the authority of the Church suffered. Philip, Bishop of Fermo, came to Hungary in 1279 as papal legate and held a great synod at Buda (Ofen), where various decisions were reached concerning the preservation of the interests of the Church and the restoration of canon law, but the synod was forcibly dissolved by the king, and its members driven away. The appeals made by the Hungarian bishops and the Holy See to the king were in vain; Ladislaus promised, indeed, to act differently, and to reform the disordered political and ecclesiastical conditions, but he failed to keep his word. After the murder of Ladislaus, the last of the Arpád dynasty, Andrew III, grandson of Andrew II, became king. During his reign of ten years (1290-1301) he was engaged in a constant struggle with foreign claimants to the throne, and could give no care to the internal and ecclesiastical conditions of the country. Rudolf of Hapsburg endeavoured to wrest Hungary from Andrew for his son Albrecht, and the grandson of Stephen V, Charles Martell of Naples, also claimed it. After the death of the latter, who had the support of the Holy See, his son, Charles Robert, maintained the father's claims, and from 1295 assumed the title of King of Hungary.
After the death of Andrew III a series of wars broke out over the succession. A part of the people and clergy held to King Wenceslaus, another to Otto, Duke of Bavaria, and still another to Charles Robert. The Holy See strongly espoused the cause of Charles Robert and sent Cardinal Gentile to Hungary. Notwithstanding these efforts in his favour, it was not until 1309 that Charles Robert (1309-42) was able to secure the throne of Hungary for himself. There now began for the country a long period of consolidation. The new king regulated the internal administration, brought the state finances into good order, imposing for this purpose in 1323 a land tax, reorganized the army, and sought to increase his dynastic power by forming connexions with foreign countries. In church affairs he encroached largely on ecclesiastical rights ; he filled the vacant sees and the church offices without regard to the electoral rights of the cathedral chapters. He claimed the revenues of vacant benefices for himself, confiscated the incomes of other benefices, granted large numbers of expectancies, and forced those appointed to ecclesiastical benefices to pay a larger or smaller sum before taking office. In 1338 a part of the Hungarian episcopate sent a memorial to the Apostolic See, in which, with some exaggeration, they presented an account of the encroachments of the king. The pope notified the king of the memorial, an act which created no ill-feeling between the two; the Holy Father contented himself with admonishing the king in a paternal manner to remove the abuses and to avoid infringing on the rights of the Church.
During the reign of Louis I, the Great (1342-82), the son of Charles Robert, Catholicism reached the height of prosperity in Hungary. Numerous monasteries and other religious foundations came into existence in this reign; above all, the Hermits of St. Paul enjoyed the king's special favour. In 1381 Louis obtained from the Republic of Venice the relics of St. Paul the Hermit, which were taken with great ecclesiastical pomp to the Pauline monastery near Buda. Among his pious acts must be counted the building of the church at the place of pilgrimage, Gross-Mariazell in Styria, and of the chapel dedicated to St. Ladislaus at Aachen. Splendid churches were also built in Hungary, as at Gran, Eger, and Grosswardein (Nagy-Várad). In filling ecclesiastical offices the king was careful that the dioceses should receive well-trained and competent bishops. In order to promote learning he founded the university at Pécs (Fünfkirchen). Louis also sought to bring about the conversion of the Slavonic peoples living to the south of Hungary, who held to the Greek Church, the Serbs, Wallachians, and Bulgarians. His attempts to convert them led to repeated conflicts with these races. In this reign began the struggle with the growing power of the Turks, against whose assaults Hungary now became the bulwark of Europe. Internal disorders broke out again in the reign of Maria (1382-95), the daughter of Louis, in which the Church suffered greatly in the southern part of the kingdom, especially in Croatia. In Hungary proper the queen sought to further the interests of the Church. The most important measures passed at a synod at Gran were decisions regarding the training of the clergy. Maria built several churches of the Perpetual Adoration. From 1387 her rule was merely nominal, her husband Sigismund being the real ruler. After Maria's death he became her successor.
In one of the first years (1397) of Sigismund's reign (1395-1436), the decrees of the Diet of 1387 were renewed. These declared that no ecclesiastical benefice could be bestowed on a foreign ecclesiastic. Sigismund, however, paid little attention to this regulation. Immediately on entering upon his reign Sigismund came into conflict with the Hungarian oligarchy. This led to open war, and even, for a time, to the imprisonment of the king. In 1403, King Ladislaus of Naples appeared as rival king; nevertheless, Sigismund was able to maintain himself on the throne. His reign was coincident with a large part of the Great Western Schism, and the two great reforming Councils of Constance and Basle were held while he was on the throne. In the Great Schism, Hungary adhered to the obedience (or party) of the Roman claimant to the papacy. Louis I, the Great, had supported Urban VI, and his successors, Maria and Sigismund, also sided with the Roman Curia. Sigismund, indeed, in 1403 renounced Boniface IX, because this pope supported the rival King Ladislaus, yet he did not recognize Benedict XIII. At a later date he recognized Innocent VII and subsequently supported the Roman Curia. In 1404 the Diet declared that in future ecclesiastical benefices in Hungary could only be bestowed by the king, consequently the rights both of spiritual and secular patrons were annulled, and the jus placeti introduced, according to which papal Bulls and commands could only be accepted and proclaimed in Hungary after they had received the royal approval. Supported by these enactments Sigismund at once asserted his right to appoint bishops. Naturally, the Curia did not recognize this claim and refused to give the investiture to the bishops chosen by Sigismund. Upon this Sigismund, in 1410, appealed to John XXIII, from whom he requested the recognition of this right. John did not accede to this request, although he granted investiture to the bishops appointed by the king and thus tacitly recognized the royal right of filling benefices, a right which, as a matter of fact, the king continued to exercise.
After his election as King of the Romans, Sigismund endeavoured to bring the schism to an end. The unity of the Church was restored by the Council of Constance, and the concordat made with Germany was also authoritative for Hungary. While the council was in session, after the deposition of Benedict XIII, Sigismund obtained for himself and his successors the right of naming the bishops. This right was, indeed, not put into documentary form, but Stephen Werböczi, in his collection of the Hungarian laws "Opus Tripartitum juris consuetudinarii regni Hungariæ", asserted that this right was conceded to the King of Hungary at the Council of Constance, and Cardinal Peter Pázmány also referred to it at a later date. The council further decided that in Hungary ecclesiastical cases should be tried in the country itself, and not brought before the Roman Curia, that only appeals could be taken to Rome. After the council had closed Sigismund claimed to the fullest extent the rights which had been conceded to him by the council. The Republic of Venice having seized Dalmatia, the Archdioceses of Spalato and Zara, with their suffragans, were lost to Hungary. This is the reason why in Hungarian official documents for many years these dioceses were given as vacant. In Hungary proper the Church maintained itself with difficulty in the northern districts, on account of the incursions of the Hussites, who traversed all upper Hungary, plundering the churches and laying waste the country. They also gained adherents in the southern districts, where, however, the movement was soon suppressed, thanks to the missionary activity of the Franciscan monk James of the Marches .
The chief source of anxiety to the government of Hungary in Sigismund's reign was the growing power of the Turks. Since 1389 when Servia was conquered by the Osmanli power at the battle of Kosova (also called Amselfeld , "Field of the Blackbirds"), the Turks had slowly but steadily advanced against Hungary. In 1396 Sigismund undertook a campaign on a large scale against them, but met with a severe defeat at Nicopolis. To safeguard the Hungarian frontier, Sigismund obtained from Stephen Lazarevícs, ruler of Servia, by the Treaty of Tata (Totis), in 1426, the Servian fortresses on the border of the two countries, but he was not able to hold them against the Turks. The siege of the fortress of Galambócz (1428) ended with his defeat and narrow escape from death. The power of the Turks steadily increased, and Sigismund's successors were only able to check momentarily the westward advance of the Ottoman Empire. Sigismund was succeeded by his son-in-law Albert (1437-39); in this reign the influence of the Hungarian nobility was again paramount. The Turks recommenced their inroads, entering the country near Szendrö. After Albert's death a dispute as to the succession arose between Wladislaw I (Wladislaw III of Poland ) and the adherents of Albert's posthumous son Ladislaus. In the end Wladislaw I (1442-44) became ruler; his short reign is chiefly noted for the wars with the Turks, in which the Hungarian forces were led by János Hunyady. Wladislaw I fell in battle with the Turks at Varna, Bulgaria, where he was defeated; after his death Hungary was thrown into confusion by the quarrels among the ruling nobles. To put an end to these disorders the inferior nobility undertook to bring the country again into unity and made Hunyady governor during the minority of Ladislaus V, Posthumus, appointing with him an administrative council. While at the head of the government, Hunyady fought successfully against the Turks. During his control of affairs also, the appointment to ecclesiastical benefices was considered the prerogative of the Crown, and it was accordingly exercised by him and his council. During the reign of Ladislaus V (1453-57) the leading nobles regained control; this led once more to disturbances, especially after the death of Hunyady. While Ladislaus was king, Constantinople was taken by the Turks (1453), who now turned all their strength against Hungary. Hunyady won, indeed, the brilliant victory over them at Belgrad (1456), but he died a few days later. The hatred of the great nobles against him was now turned against his sons, one of whom, Ladislaus, was executed. When King Ladislaus died, Hunyady's son, Matthias I, Corvinus, became king.
Matthias I (1458-90) was almost continually engaged in conflict with the Ottoman power. Pope Pius II promised the most vigorous support to the king in this struggle, but the efforts of the Holy See to organize a general European crusade against the Turks proved unavailing because of the pope's death. Notwithstanding the lack of help from other countries, Matthias battled for a time with success against the Turks in Bosnia, and to him it is due that their advance was temporarily checked. In 1463 Bosnia was conquered by the Turks, and with this the dioceses in Bosnia ceased to exist. On account of the Turkish invasion the see of the Bishop of Corbavia had to be transferred to Modrus as early as 1460. Up to 1470 Matthias maintained friendly relations with the Catholic Church, but after 1471 his policy changed. The second half of his reign was characterized by a number of serious blunders. Notwithstanding the enactments of the law he gave a number of dioceses to foreigners; in 1472 he appointed John Beckensloer Archbishop of Gran (Esztergom), in 1480 he gave the archdiocese to the seventeen-year-old John of Aragon, and in 1486 to Ippolito d'Este, who was seven years old. Foreigners were also appointed to the Dioceses of Grosswardein (Nagy-Várad), Pécs (Fünfkirchen), and Eger (Erlau). Matthias also rewarded political services with ecclesiastical offices, and treated the property of the Church as though it belonged to the State. His relations with the Holy See, originally friendly, gradually grew strained, and he went so far as to threaten to join the Greek Church. In 1488 Angelo Pecchinoli was sent to Hungary by the pope as legate. Probably through the influence of his wife Beatrice, the king was led into more peaceful relations with the papacy, so that there was a better condition of affairs in the last years of his reign.
It was while Matthias was sovereign that Humanism appeared in Hungary. The king himself was a vigorous supporter of the Humanistic movement and the remains of his renowned library at Buda, the Bibliotheca Corvina , still excite wonder. The king's example led others, especially the bishops, to cultivate the arts and learning. Among the ecclesiastics who competed with the king in the promotion of learning were Joannes Vitéz, Urban Döczi, and Thomas Bakácz. At times, however, the ardour with which Matthias supported learning slackened, thus he did not give his aid to the universities already existing at Pécs (Fünfkirchen) and Pozsony (Presburg), so that later they had to be closed. After the death of Matthias there were once more several claimants for the throne. Matthias had sought in the last years of his life to have his illegitimate son Joannes Corvinus recognized as his successor. After his death the nation divided into two parties; one was influenced by the Queen-Dowager Beatrice, who wanted the crown for herself, the other desired a foreign ruler. Finally the King of Bohemia, Wladislaw II (1490-1516), of the Polish House of Jagellon, obtained the throne. In this reign the power of Hungary rapidly declined. Naturally vacillating and indolent, Wladislaw had not the force to withstand the determination of the great Hungarian nobles to rule, and the royal power became the plaything of the various parties. The antagonisms of the different ranks of society grew more acute and led, in 1514, to a great peasant revolt, directed against the nobles and clergy, which was only suppressed after much bloodshed. The Diet of 1498 passed enactments correcting the ecclesiastical abuses that had become prevalent during the reign of Matthias and prohibited particularly the appointment of foreigners to ecclesiastical positions. Among other enactments were those that forbade the granting of church offices to any but natives, the holding of ecclesiastical pluralities, and the appropriation of church lands by the laity. Wladislaw, however, was too weak to enforce these enactments. One of the particular evils of his reign was the holding of church dignities by minors ; this arose partly from the granting of the royal right of patronage to different families. One of the most prominent ecclesiastical princes of this period was Thomas Bakácz, who was first Bishop of Györ and Eger, and later Archbishop of Gran. His eminent qualities made him for a time a candidate for the papal see. It was owing to his efforts that the offices of primate and legatus natus were permanently united with the Archbishopric of Gran.
Under the successor of Wladislaw, Louis II (1516-26), Hungary sank into complete decay. The authority of the sovereign was no longer regarded; energetic measures could not be taken against the incursions of the Turks, on account of the continual quarrels and dissensions, and the fate of the country was soon sealed. In 1521 Belgrad fell into the hands of the Turks, and Hungary was now at their mercy. In 1526 the country gathered together its resources for the decisive struggles. At the battle of Mohács (29 Aug., 1526) Louis II was killed, and Catholic Hungary was defeated and overthrown by the Turks. The universal political decline of Hungary in the reign of Louis II was accompanied by the decline of its religious life. The education of the clergy sank steadily, and the secular lords grew more and more daring in their seizure of church property. Ecclesiastical training and discipline decayed. The southern part of Hungary was almost entirely lost to the Church through the advance of the Turks. Thousands of the inhabitants of the southern districts were carried off as prisoners or killed, monasteries and churches were destroyed, and the place of the Catholic population was taken by large numbers of Serbs who were adherents of the Orthodox Greek Church. The Serbs had begun to settle in Hungary in the time of Matthias I, so that during the reign of Louis II several Orthodox Greek bishops exercised their office there. In the first half of the sixteenth century the weakened condition of the Church in Hungary offered a favourable opportunity to the Lutheran Reformation . The new religion gained adherents especially in the cities where the bishops had been obliged to give the management of ecclesiastical affairs to others; the control had thereby passed into the hands of the city authorities, who in the course of time claimed for themselves the right of patronage. Luther's German writings soon found a ready reception among the inhabitants of the cities, and before long Lutheran preachers appeared; these came largely from Silesia, which had active intercourse with Hungary, and soon settled even im Buda and in the neighbourhood of the king. Exceedingly severe laws were passed by the Hungarian Diets of 1523 and 1525 against Lutherans ; in 1523 the penalty of death and loss of property was enacted, and in 1525 the Diet condemned Lutherans to death at the stake. Owing to these laws Lutheranism did not gain much headway in Hungary before 1526. However, in the confusion which followed the death of Louis II, the new religion steadily gained ground.(2) From the Battle of Mohács to the Treaty of Szatmár ( 1526-1711 )
Upon the death of Louis II, Hungary was once more a prey to disputes over the succession. Ferdinand of Austria claimed the crown on the ground of a compact between the Emperor Maximilian and Wladislaw II, while the national party elected John Zápolya as king. To these two opposing elements should be added the Ottoman power, which after the conquest of Buda (1541) ruled a large part of the land. The main result of the triple political division of Hungary was the almost complete disappearance of public order and of the systematic conduct of affairs; another was the evident decline of Catholicism and the rapid advance of the Reformation. The growth of the new religion was evident soon after the battle of Mohács. It was encouraged by the existing political conditions of Hungary: the dispute over the succession, with the accompanying civil war ; the lack of a properly educated Catholic clergy ; the transfer of a large amount of church land to the laity ; and the claims made by both aspirants to the throne upon the episcopal domains. The foreign armies and their leaders, sent by Ferdinand I to Hungary, also aided in the spread of the new doctrine, which first appeared in the mountain towns of upper Hungary and then extended into the other parts of this division of the country. In western Hungary, on the farther side of the Danube, larger or smaller centres of Lutheranism sprang up under the protection of the nobility and distinguished families. These beginnings of the new doctrine grew rapidly under such encoura
Join the Movement
When you sign up below, you don't just join an email list - you're joining an entire movement for Free world class Catholic education.
Copyright 2021 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2021 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.
Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.