Dear oversea Relatives!

The Ottoman and Habsburg centuries

The Ottoman Empire turned itself toward the heart of Europe under Suleiman the Magnificent’s rule. He attacked the Habsburg Empire in alliance with Francis I of France. The path, as always, led through Hungary. So the then half a millennia old dilemma came up once again, should we stand with the East or the West. As during the time of István I and Koppány the country split up into two parties. Even today we are not sure as what would have been the better choice. Near Mohács on the 29th of august 1526 the Hungarian army suffered a devastating defeat. In 1541 Buda also came under Ottoman rule, and stayed there for 150 years. George Martinuzzi Pauline monk, later cardinal, organized the eastern parts of the country into the Principality of Transylvania. He balanced between the two parties until no one knew which side he was on. To be on the safe side Ferdinand I had him assassinated. Suleiman led seven campaigns against us. In 1552 at Eger we managed to fillip him. In 1566 he besieged Szigetvár, but he did not live to see his victory and the heroic death of Miklós Zrínyi. He came before Allah earlier; he died in the camp at the age of 71. 100 years later in 1664 at Szentgotthárd the united armies of Europe had a huge victory over the Ottomans. After the overwhelming victory the Peace of Vasvár came as a surprise for everyone even for the Ottomans. The Ottomans received a truce for 20 years and some extra land too.

We Hungarians are inexpert in the art of adjourning wars, how to overlook our enemy’s ravages without retribution, how to rave our homeland rather than the enemy’s army, how to scrounge during combat…

A quote from the letter from Miklós Zrínyi to general Raimondo Montecuccoli.

Minister Portia unmistakably told the truth:

The Emperor yielded Várad and Érsekújvár to the Turks, because he thinks that way he can be the Hungarian’s ruler and master and he can prevent them from secession and to elect any other king.

The peacemaker Habsburg Leopold I in 1671 beheaded the outraged Hungarians’ leaders Péter Zrínyi, Ferenc Nádasdy, Kristóf Frangepán. He waged an extermination campaign against the protestants. After this first Imre Thököly then Ferenc Rákóczi II led an uprising against him. Leopold regarded the Kingdom of Hungary as a territory that was taken with arms and as one that has lost all of its rights. He deposed the nation of its right of resistance which had been incorporated in the Golden Bull of 1222 and also the right of the Habsburgs to succeed to the throne without election was introduced. He issued the famous Diploma Leopoldium. This letter of faith includes the terms of the Habsburg Dynasty’s reign over Transylvania as negotiated with the estates. We shouldn’t construe how much negotiation it contained. Even though the war of independence taking 8 years (1703-1711) led by Ferenc Rákóczi II did not gained it’s end, it gave our oppressors something to think about. 30 years later the last Habsburg died, and the family died out on the spear side. The family by gathering all its strength made the world accept the succession of Maria Theresa. Another paradox was, when her empire was attacked from multiple sides, who did she run to for help and got help, yes from those Hungarians whose predecessors from her predecessors the aforementioned things got as a “gift”. In 1741 she called the diet in Bratislava (Pressburg) together. Dressed in black and with her small son the subsequent “Hatted” King Joseph II in her arms he asked the Hungarians for help heavily relying on their well know emotional habit. It is where the well-known phrase “Vitam et sanguinem pro rege nostro!” (“Our life and blood for our king!”) was said. With their help even though the war was not won, her empire was saved. From 1765 onward she did not call the diet together, she ruled trough decrees. Inside the empire a small export tax was imposed on the Hungarian agricultural products, except on those which they also produced in the hereditary provinces. On the manufactured goods coming from Austria and Bohemia a small import tax was imposed, and the Hungarian export was hindered. Her decree incorporating the unified common charge of the serfdom was issued in 1677 and was called Urbarium or Feudal edict. Her educational decree the Ratio Educationis issued in 1777 made education compulsory for children aged between 6 and 12. It ordained a summer break during agricultural labor and of course it prescribed what can be taught in schools. Maria Theresa also continued the settlings into Hungary. On the treasury’s expense tens of thousands German speaking settlers were brought from the western parts of the empire, into the Banat region and Transylvania 350-400 000 Rumanian settled into from outside the Carpathians. The only question is “Qui prodest?” (“Whose interests?”).
68 years after her death on the ides of march 1848 the Hungarians once more contradicted the oppression. Kossuth, Széchenyi, Batthyány, the 13 Martyrs of Arad and many thousands more tore the feathers of the Imperial eagle. At the end only with the help of the hundreds of thousands of troops of the Tsar of Russia’s army could Franz Joseph I win. But that was not the last time the bear visited us, during the 20th century our “liberation” took 50 years.