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The place of the Turks in the power-question was, however, now taken by Transylvania. Bocskay, indeed, died (poisoned, some said) a few weeks after the Peace of Zsitvatorok, and the usual scramble for power followed, then another bad reign by another bad Báthori. But then, in 1613, the Porte forced the Transylvanians to accept as prince the man who was destined to prove the most famous of all the line, Gabriel Bethlen, more commonly known by the Hungarian version of his name, Bethlen Gábor. Bethlen's rule, which lasted from 1613 to 1629, was in every sense remarkable. At home, while avoiding the cruelties and excesses of many of his predecessors, he established a singular variant of patriarchal but sufficiently enlightened despotism. He developed mines and industry and nationalised many branches of Transylvania's foreign trade, - his agents buying up the products at fixed prices and selling them abroad at a profit, almost doubling his revenues by this and other devices. He built himself a grand new palace in his capital, Gyulafehérvár, kept a sumptuous court, and patronised the arts and learning, especially in connection with his own, Calvinist, faith. He founded an academy to which he invited any pastor and teacher from the rest of Hungary, sent students abroad to the protestant universities of England, the Low Countries and protestant Germany, conferred hereditary nobility on all protestant pastors and forbade landlords to prevent their serfs from having their children schooled.

Other parts of his revenue he devoted to keeping up an efficient standing army of mercenaries, with whose help he conducted an ambitious foreign policy, along new lines. Keeping peace with the Porte, he struck out to the north and west. Partly, no doubt, he was actuated by simple personal ambition, but he seems also to have been genuinely anxious to protect protestant liberties, especially those of his fellow-countrymen in Royal Hungary, against the rising tide of the Counter-Reformation. This combination of motives led him to intervene when the Thirty Years War broke out in 1618, and with the Imperial armies heavily engaged in Bohemia, he overran most of Royal Hungary, where a party offered him the crown in 1620. The Porte vetoed his acceptance of this offer, but by the Treaty of Nikolsburg (31 December 1621) he gained the title of Prince of Transylvania and of Hungary, a big frontier extension and a duchy in Silesia, besides securing confirmation of the rights of the Hungarian protestants. A series of further campaigns, in the course of which Bethlen, with some difficulty, got Transylvania recognised as a member of the 1626 Westminster Coalition, were ended by other treaties which did not alter substantially the position reached at Nikolsburg.

When Bethlen died suddenly in 1629, the Transylvanian Estates abolished most of his internal reforms with as much alacrity and decision as the Hungarian Estates had shown in abolishing those of Corvinus. György Rákóczi I (1630-44) was obliged to follow more conventional methods, and was himself a less original character, but he was a shrewd negotiator and - not less important - the owner of enormous private estates. The power which these gave him enabled him to consolidate his position at home, and he managed to maintain and even advance Transylvania's international status and prestige. He fought the Emperor again, when the protestants of Royal Hungary complained that their rights were being disregarded, beat him, and in the Treaty of Linz (16 December 1645) extracted from him fresh guarantees even more far-reaching than those agreed at Vienna and Nikolsburg. Transylvania figured as a sovereign state in the Treaty of Westphalia.

Largely owing to this support from Transylvania, partly also to the division of the Habsburg patrimony prevailing at the time, Royal Hungary was able to preserve a good deal of political and religious liberty during the first half of the seventeenth century. Matthias, to whom Rudolph ceded the rule over Hungary, Moravia and Austria in 1608, had to submit himself to election and to sign a diploma promising to respect the chartered privileges of the 'Status et Ordines'. In 1613 he wrote bitterly to his cousin Ferdinand that he was quite powerless in Hungary. The Palatine did what he pleased, without troubling himself about either orders or prohibitions. 'If I ask the Hungarians to support me against the Turks, no one budges, but if the Prince of Transylvania asks them for help, the tocsins ring in every county. They mean to depose our House.'

The Hungarians made no such move: Matthias was followed by Ferdinand II and he by Ferdinand III, but each had to sign a far-reaching diploma, and neither was strong enough to break his word on a large scale. Thus Hungary escaped almost entirely the inhuman enforcement of the Counter-Reformation under which Bohemia suffered so terribly, and was also spared the worst ravages of the Thirty Years War.

With the relative peace there came a revival, also relative and limited to certain circles, of attachment to the dynasty. This was chiefly the work of the great Hungarian Cardinal, Péter Pázmány, made Primate-Archbishop in 1616, who by his extraordinary persuasive genius succeeded in winning the great majority of the magnates (whose tenets, until the Peace of Linz, were automatically followed by their subjects) back to the catholic fold. The catholic magnates, including the prelates, came to form a party in Hungary which was at least loyal to the Habsburgs and on their side in the great national issue of east versus west, and their influence was the stronger because they now ranked officially as a separate Estate. Ferdinand I had introduced the institution, previously unknown in Hungary, of hereditary titles of rank, and the families so distinguished, with the great officers of the Crown (who were almost invariably drawn from among them) and the higher-ranking prelates now formed a separate Upper House ('Table') which deliberated separately from the representatives of the counties and boroughs who formed the 'Lower Table'.

Pázmány was active also in the cultural field. He did much to improve the standards of the clergy and to raise the level of education generally. He was the founder of the oldest Hungarian university to survive into modern times, an institution originally sited in Nagyszombat, although later transferred to Buda-Pest. The national culture of the day, in which Austrian, Italian and Polish influences blended curiously with those of the native soil, was highly interesting, and far from insignificant.

Pázmány's work was, however, not an unmixed blessing to Hungary. Against the cultural advance which it brought, and the relaxation of tension with the dynasty, had to be set the acute internal conflict which developed with this phase of its religious history, for the catholic Hungarians were no more tolerant towards their protestant fellow-countrymen than were the court's German and Spanish advisers, and the antipathy of many of them extended also to protestant Transylvania. It was returned in full measure by the protestants of Royal Hungary and by the Transylvanians, who in their campaigns in Hungary took especial delight in burning the castles and ravaging the lands of the catholic Hungarians. Thus Hungary came again to be deeply divided, by cleavages, both vertical - Royal Hungary versus Transylvania - and horizontal within Royal Hungary itself, where the catholic magnates were at odds with the lesser nobility, which in the main had remained protestant.

The position of the pro-Habsburg party - in so far as it can be so called - was in any case ambiguous and painful. Hated by their fellow-countrymen, they were also distrusted by the centralists in Vienna, who saw in the distinctive position which all Hungarians were determined to maintain, only an unnatural and undesirable anachronism. And they themselves were well aware that any concessions to them were unwillingly made and would be retracted if ever the opportunity presented itself.

The problem of reconciling Hungarian chartered privileges with Habsburg centralism was never really solved; and to aggravate it, there was the running sore of the Turkish occupation of central Hungary. If the Turks had abandoned organised aggression, this did not mean that the border forays, with their constant toll of Hungarian blood, had ceased. Moreover, the apparent weakness of the Turks should surely have made it possible to drive them out of Hungary altogether, and it was the king of Hungary's sworn duty to do this. Sometimes individual Hungarians under-took private campaigns, some of which met with considerable success, but the Crown, occupied as it was with the west, refused to support them. It adhered, pedantically or honourably, to its truce with the Porte and let the dismemberment of Hungary continue.

The uneasy balance between the three factors which had been established in 1606 was destroyed when György Rákóczi II of Transylvania, who had succeeded his father in 1648, overreached himself, allowing himself to be drawn into Charles X of Sweden's Polish schemes. In January 1657, seduced by the prospect, held out to him by Charles, of acquiring the crown of Poland, he led an army across the passes, having consulted neither the Transylvanian Estates, nor the Porte. The enterprise was a complete disaster: the army was encircled by the Tatars and most of its members killed or carried off into slavery. By ill fortune, Mohammed Köprülü, the architect of the Ottoman Empire's last renaissance, had just become Grand Vizier. He led a great force against Transylvania and captured, one by one, the great fortresses guarding it. The end of a confused struggle was that Transylvania lost the bulk of the outlying western territories which had furnished most of its real strength. A new prince - Mihály Apafi - was installed, who was a simple puppet of the Porte's.

It was the end of Transylvania both as a European Power and protector of Hungarian liberties, and it also brought about a crisis between the Estates of Royal Hungary and the dynasty. During the fighting, both the Transylvanians and the west Hungarians had appealed passionately to Vienna for help, insisting that now was the chance to end Turkish rule in Hungary. Here, again, the moment was singularly unfortunate. Leopold I, who had just ascended the throne, was among the most convinced catholics of his line, his advisers, Lobkowitz, Portia, Auersperg and the rest, were among the most extreme devotees of 'Great Austrian' absolutism. Further, Leopold was preoccupied with his struggle against France for the hegemony over Germany, and reluctant to offend the sultan. He did send a small force under his famous general, Montecuccoli, into Transylvania, but when the Turks took this, and hostilities which had been opened independently in south Hungary by Miklós Zrinyi, great-grandson of the hero of Szigetvár, as a casus belli, and attacked Hungary, the old story was repeated. Montecuccoli left Zrinyi to his fate. He defeated the Turks signally at St. Gotthard, on the Austrian frontier, on 1 August 1664, but instead of following this up, Leopold on 27 September concluded the Peace of Vasvár, which would have been more appropriate had Austria been the defeated party: under it, he recognised the Sultan's gains in Transylvania, ceded him a fortress in west Hungary, and even submitted to paying an indemnity.

The vicious circle was now complete. The Hungarians' embitterment was so great that for the first time, an important party in West Hungary, including leading Catholics, turned against the Habsburgs. A group of the highest magnates in the land, including the Palatine himself, Ferenc Wesselényi, opened negotiations with the Porte, France, and other powers. The conspiracy was betrayed and several of the leaders executed. Now Ferdinand's minister, Lobkowitz, organised reprisals on the grand scale. Three hundred noblemen lost their estates. The Cardinal-Primate, Szelepcsényi, and his right-hand man and later successor, Kollonics, seized their chance to press home the Counter-Reformation. Protestant pastors and teachers were ordered to renounce their faith, or leave their homes; those who refused were sent to the galleys. In 1673 the Constitution was suspended and Hungary placed under a Directorate, headed by the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order, with a Council composed half of Germans, half of Hungarians.

The official languages were declared to be Latin and German, and officials were required to know 'Slavonic' but not Hungarian. These measures could not long be maintained in their full severity, for the discontent threw up a leader in the person of a young north Hungarian nobleman named Imre Thököly, who, gathering behind him a force (known after Dózsa's followers, as 'kuruc', or crusaders) of refugees, disbanded soldiers and hayduks, and catching Leopold at a disadvantage - war had broken out again between the Empire and France - forced him, in 1681, to restore the Constitution, re-convoke the Diet and promise to remedy most of Hungary's grievances, besides acknowledging Thököly himself as quasi-sovereign of north Hungary.

But this meant no real reconciliation; three Hungarians out of four had now reached the stage of regarding the Habsburgs and 'Austria' as their mortal enemy. And it was just at this moment that the great war opened which ended by bringing all Hungary under Habsburg rule. In 1683 the Sultan, encouraged by Thököly's successes, sent another vast army northward. It swept across Hungary and reached the walls of Vienna itself. Now, however, the tide turned. On 12 September 1683 the beleaguering army was caught unawares, defeated disastrously, and driven back in rout. This time the victory was not squandered. By the end of the year, all Royal Hungary was free. In 1686 Buda was taken after a month's siege, its fall bringing with it the liberation of the rest of the Dunántúl and the Alföld as far south as Szabadka. In 1687 it was the turn of Transylvania and the rest of Central Hungary, except for the corner contained by the Maros and the Tisza, and the Imperial forces even penetrated deep into the Balkans. Louis XIV's invasion of west Germany enabled the Turks to retake Belgrade and re-enter south Hungary, but on 26 June 1699, after some years of less severe and mainly local fighting, the Sultan signed the Peace of Karlowitz, under which he relinquished all Hungary except the Maros-Tisza corner and the long-lost Croat territories across the Sava. So Hungary was liberated and almost completely reunited at last, but at a dreadful cost. The Hungarians' own losses in the operations had been not inconsiderable, for while it is true that the main regular forces were German, Hungarian auxiliaries played important parts in many of the actions. The material devastation was enormous. The vast Turkish army left a train of ruin behind it in its advance, and still more, in its disorderly retreat. Where fortresses held out (and some did for two or even three years) the besiegers scorched the earth round them to cut off the defenders' supplies. What the country suffered at the hands of its liberators was little less. The West Hungarian counties were required to pay the lion's share of the provisioning of the army, and above this, the soldiers billeted in the villages looted, ravaged and raped at will, so that the villagers fled before them. 'What profit will Your Majesty have', the Palatine asked Leopold, 'if He rules only over forests and deserted hills?' In a hundred years, he wrote, Hungary had not paid so much to the Turks as now it was required to pay in two to the armies of occupation. The peasants were perishing of starvation, selling their wives and daughters to the soldiery. According to another writer, many peasants sold their children to the Turks for money with which to satisfy the demands of the soldiers.

The general devastation was, indeed, probably worse than it had ever been. The figure traditionally given for the total population at the end of the wars is 1,500,000 for Inner Hungary and 800,000 for Transylvania, plus perhaps another 250,000 for Croatia and the Military Frontier. Modern investigators believe this to be an underestimate, and put the grand total at least three, conceivably four millions. But this was little enough for a country the size of Hungary; moreover, such population as there was mainly concentrated in the northern counties and in Transylvania. In 1692 the total population of the three counties of Baranya, Somogy and Tolna was officially put at 3,221 souls, 1,652 of them in the city of Pécs alone. Between the Danube and the Tisza the inhabited places were usually a day's journey apart.

Political persecution, too, recommenced as soon as a district was in Imperial hands. Some of the Imperial generals instituted real reigns of terror. In 1683 Carafa, the most notorious of them, after extorting huge sums from the citizens of Debrecen, reported that he was on the track of a dangerous conspiracy against Leopold's life, and after putting numerous nobles and burghers to the torture, had twenty-two of them, all completely innocent, executed.

And now Leopold's anti-Hungarian advisers held that the time had come to proceed to the complete subjugation of the country which Thököly's rebellion had interrupted. After the capture of Buda, the Privy Council met to discuss the modalities of the coronation of Leopold's elder son, Joseph, and some of the participants argued that Leopold was entitled to introduce a completely new system, jure belli. On this, as on several other occasions, Leopold showed himself more moderate than his advisers, and at a Diet convoked in 1687 he agreed to confirm the existing Constitution, subject to three modifications: the succession was made hereditary in the male line of the Habsburgs, the jus resistendi (which Wesselényi and his fellow-conspirators had invoked as justifying their action) was abolished; and to Joseph's promise to observe the country's laws and privileges was added the saving clause: 'as the King and the assembled Estates shall agree on the interpretation and application thereof.'

After this, however, Leopold did not again convoke the Diet, and his rule was, in fact, a malevolent dictatorship exercised by the Hofkriegsrat, the camera (which was staffed largely with Germans) and Kollonics. It is true that a very drastic plan proposed by Kollonics for reorganising the country (in ways some of which would have benefited it) was not adopted, but this was because the Archbishop of Kalocsa succeeded in persuading Leopold that it could not be carried through without the consent of the Diet, which Leopold preferred not to ask. Enough was done without this to put the saying into circulation that Kollonics' object was first to pauperise Hungary, then catholicise it, then Germanise it. 44,000 of the 60,000 soldiers which constituted the Imperial army were quartered in Hungary, which the military commissioners in charge of them bled white for their maintenance.

The Protestants were harried unmercifully. In 1690 a Commission, called the Neoacquistica Commissio, was set up to check title-deeds in the reconquered territories. Even where the heirs at law of the former owners were able to establish their titles, they were required to pay a heavy indemnity for reinstatement. Where they could not pay this, or in the more frequent cases where a claim was disallowed, or no claimant came forward, the Crown disposed of the land as it would. A few estates were purchased by Hungarians, notably the Esterházys, but more were sold to foreign buyers, or given to Imperial generals in arrear of pay. The Cumanian-Jazygian Free Districts were sold to the Teutonic Order and their populations reduced to villein status. The Crown at first treated the whole of south Hungary simply as territory conquered from the Turks. The Military Frontier was extended to run the whole length of the Turkish frontier, as far as Transylvania, the new areas, like the old, being organised in military Districts under the Hofkriegsrat. The hinterland was afterwards restored to the counties for administrative purposes, but the Crown kept almost all the land in them for itself.

It was especially on these neoacquistica lands that the process, to which we shall return later, of colonising the soil of Hungary with non-Magyars, was initiated even before the Turks were fairly out of the country. This began, indeed, almost fortuitously with the arrival of sundry small bands of refugees from the Balkans, who were established more or less provisionally in Hungary, and by far the most important immigration of the time was not originally meant to be permanent: in 1690, when the Austrian armies evacuated Serbia, they were accompanied by a big body of Serbs, usually estimated at 40,000 fighting men, or 200,000 souls in all, under the Patriarch of Ipek, Arsen Crnojevi . They were settled provisionally near the southern frontier, and were to have returned to Serbia when it was reconquered, but after the Peace of Karlowitz were of necessity allowed to remain in the country. They were promised free exercise of their religion and the right to elect their own archbishop and Voivode. Most of them were now settled in the Military Frontier, but considerable numbers outside, although usually adjacent, to it, notably in the angle between the Drava and the Sava.

Transylvania was treated only a little less ruthlessly. In 1687 Leopold agreed with Apafi, the ruling prince, to recognise his title, subject to recognition of himself as suzerain. Apafi's son was to succeed him, and when he in his turn died, the Transylvanians were to recover their right of electing their own prince. Leopold promised to respect the Transylvanian Constitution. When Apafi died in 1690, Thököly, with Turkish support, defeated the local Austrian garrisons and in an effort to save the situation, Leopold issued a diploma guaranteeing the autonomy and rights of the Principality, but he refused to sanction the succession of the young Apafi and ruled Transylvania through his own governors.

It is arguable that the Kollonics era was more dangerous to Hungary's national existence than any she had previously experienced, but the excess of the evil ended by bringing its own remedy. It evoked from the first much resistance, especially in the north-east, which lay a little outside the effective reach of the Imperial arm, and became the refuge of every kind of political revolutionary: persecuted Protestants, nobles ruined by the neoacquistica, disbanded soldiers, masterless hayduks. Here spontaneous rebellion, the un-organised protest of poor men against their oppressors, broke out in 1697 and was renewed year after year. Then, looking for a leader, the rebels fixed their eyes on Ferenc Rákóczi II, grandson of György Rákóczi II and of Péter Zrinyi, and stepson of Thököly.

Leopold had not confiscated the young man's estates, which were the biggest in that part of Hungary, but after having him educated by Jesuits in Bohemia, and then attached to his own court, had allowed him to go home. A gentle and unassuming soul, Rákóczi was one of the most reluctant rebels in history. He drifted into the role mainly out of pity for his wretched fellow-countrymen and did not finally yield to persuasion until Leopold had him imprisoned and friends had contrived his escape and smuggled him into Poland. Now he could no longer resist the appeals, and in June 1703 he entered Hungary, calling on all who would to follow him.

The moment was favourable, for war had just broken out again between the Empire and France, and Hungary had been almost devoided of its garrisons. There was, moreover, hope of help from France and Poland. Soon the greater part of Hungary had joined the new leader and the last great rebellion which the country was to know for 150 years was in full swing.

The Rákóczi rebellion is that on which later Hungarian historians have looked back with more romantic pride than on any other in their history. Its national and popular character (in it the nation was united, and class distinction sunk, as never before or since) and the noble and unselfish character of its young leader have lent its memory a peculiar charm. In fact, any hope that it would end in giving Hungary back its full independence vanished on the day when Marlborough's victory at Blenheim destroyed the vision of 'French and Hungarian soldiers meeting in the streets of Vienna'. For the rest of its seven-year course it was simply an increasingly forlorn struggle against growing odds. It brought with it more destruction, more depopulation (aggravated by a terrible outbreak of plague) and, towards its end, more disunion among the Hungarians themselves. And when at last peace was signed at Szatmár on 30 April 1711, the terms, which had been negotiated between the commander of the Hungarian troops on the Imperial side, Count János Pálffy, and Rákóczi's lieutenant, Count Sándor Károlyi, were less favourable than the court had offered five years earlier. On paper, brought no immediate improvement at all, simply confirming the constitutional and religious position as defined in 1687-8, with the addition that the king promised to convoke a Diet at which any complaints could be voiced, and offered an amnesty to anyone, including Rákóczi himself, who took an oath of loyalty to the Crown within three weeks.

Nevertheless, the bloodshed had not been in vain. Since the revolt had started, Leopold had died, and with Joseph I, still more with his brother Charles, in whose name the peace was actually concluded (Joseph having died on the eve of it), new men and new ideas had come to reign in Vienna. Charles had none of his father's antagonism towards the Hungarians: he was convinced that 'it was very important that quiet should prevail in Hungary' and that 'the Hungarians must be relieved of the belief that they are under German domination'. He was honestly prepared to treat the nation generously, and the Hungarians, on their side, were sick of the vain struggle and more than ready to accept the terms - which, indeed, were generous enough in the situation. Practically all of them except Rákóczi himself and a few members of his immediate entourage accepted the amnesty, and the Diet which met next year at Pozsony did so in a spirit of general good will. The most difficult parties to the negotiations were, indeed, the Hungarian labanc[16] nobles, whom the amnesty deprived of the hope of further enriching themselves at the expense of their fellow-countrymen. Charles again swore to respect the national rights and liberties and promised solemnly to rule Hungary only in accordance with her own laws, existing or as legally enacted in the future, and not 'according to the pattern of other provinces'.

The remaining details took several years to work out, partly because the whole problem of Charles' relationship with his subjects now became inextricably involved with his endeavours to secure for his daughter, Maria Theresa, the undivided succession to his dominions, and Hungary's law did not yet bind the nation to accept the succession in the female line. Ultimately, however, the 1723 Diet agreed to this (with the reservation that the wearer of the Holy Crown must be legitimate, roman catholic, and an archduke or archduchess), and made the fundamental concession that so long as this link with the Habsburgs' other dominions existed, Hungary would regard herself as thereby united with them 'indivisibly and inseparably', this union being valid 'for all events and also against external enemies . Only if the line became entirely extinct did the nation recover its right to elect its monarch, and the automatic connection with 'Austria' come to an end.

Charles swore again, in his own name and that of his successors, not to rule Hungary 'after the pattern of other provinces' but only in accordance with its own laws, existing or to be agreed between king and nation at future Diets, which were to meet every three years. He would defend the integrity of the country, and not incorporate any part of it in his other dominions.

Of the accompanying agreements, the most important was that which regulated anew the long-standing problem of defence by providing for the creation, as supplement to the noble levée, of a standing army, to be composed as to one-third by Hungarians, recruited by 'voluntary enlistment', and two-thirds by foreigners. It was to be stationed in Hungary, and Hungary agreed to pay for its upkeep by a tax the amount of which had to be agreed with each Diet. The army was to be under the control of the Hofkriegsrat, but Hungary was promised that she would now be given representation on that body.

The Consilium Locumtenentiale was now reorganised and recognised as the top-level administrative organisation. It was to sit in Pozsony, under the presidency of the Palatine, who was to be assisted by twenty-two councillors appointed by the king from among the prelates and the higher and lower nobility. The independence of this body, and of that of the Hungarian court chancellery and camera, of any non-Hungarian office, were confirmed.

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