1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Louis I. of Hungary

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
19408081911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 17 — Louis I. of HungaryRobert Nisbet Bain

LOUIS I. (1326–1382), called “the great,” king of Hungary and Poland, was the third son of Charles Robert, king of Hungary, and Elizabeth, daughter of the Polish king, Ladislaus Lokietek. In 1342 he succeeded his father as king of Hungary and was crowned at Székesfehérvár on the 21st of July with great enthusiasm. Though only sixteen he understood Latin, German and Italian as well as his mother tongue. He owed his relatively excellent education to the care of his mother, a woman of profound political sagacity, who was his chief counsellor in diplomatic affairs during the greater part of his long reign. Italian politics first occupied his attention. As a ruler of a rising great power in search of a seaboard he was the natural adversary of the Venetian republic, which already aimed at making the Adriatic a purely Venetian sea and resented the proximity of the Magyars in Dalmatia. The first trial of strength began in 1345, when the city of Zara placed herself under the protection of Hungary and was thereupon invested by the Venetians. Louis fought a battle beneath the walls of Zara (July 1st, 1346), which has been immortalized by Tintoretto, but was defeated and compelled to abandon the city to the republic. The struggle was renewed eleven years later when Louis, having formed, with infinite trouble, a league of all the enemies of Venice, including the emperor, the Habsburgs, Genoa and other Italian towns, attacked his maritime rival with such vigour that she sued for peace, and by the treaty of Zara (February 18th, 1358) ceded most of the Dalmatian towns and renounced the title of duke of Dalmatia and Croatia, hitherto borne by the doge. Far more important than the treaty itself was the consequent voluntary submission of the independent republic of Ragusa to the suzerainty of the crown of St Stephen the same year, Louis, in return for an annual tribute of 500 ducats and a fleet, undertaking to defend Ragusa against all her enemies. Still more glorious for Hungary was Louis’s third war with Venice (1378–1381), when he was again aided by the Genoese. At an early stage of the contest Venice was so hardly pressed that she offered to do homage to Hungary for all her possessions. But her immense resources enabled her to rally her forces, and peace was finally concluded between all the powers concerned at the congress of Turin (1381), Venice virtually surrendering Dalmatia to Louis and undertaking to pay him an annual tribute of 7000 ducats. The persistent hostility of Venice is partially attributable to her constant fear lest Louis should inherit the crown of Naples and thus threaten her trade and her sea-power from two sides simultaneously. Louis’s younger brother Andrew had wedded Joanna, grand-daughter and heiress of old King Robert of Naples, on whose death, in 1343, she reigned in her own right, refused her consort any share in the government, and is very strongly suspected of having secured his removal by assassination on the night of the 19th of September 1345. She then married Prince Louis of Taranto, and strong in the double support of the papal court at Avignon and of the Venetian republic (both of whom were opposed to Magyar aggrandisement in Italy) questioned the right of Louis to the two Sicilies, which he claimed as the next heir of his murdered brother. In 1347, and again in 1350, Louis occupied Naples and craved permission to be crowned king, but the papal see was inexorable and he was compelled to withdraw. The matter was not decided till 1378 when Joanna, having made the mistake of recognizing the antipope Clement VII., was promptly deposed and excommunicated in favour of Prince Charles of Durazzo, who had been brought up at the Hungarian court. Louis, always inexhaustible in expedients, determined to indemnify himself in the north for his disappointments in the south. With the Habsburgs, Hungary’s natural rivals in the west, Louis generally maintained friendly relations. From 1358 to 1368, however, the restless ambition of Rudolph, duke of Austria, who acquired Tirol and raised Vienna to the first rank among the cities of Europe, caused Louis great uneasiness. But Louis always preferred arbitration to war, and the peace congresses of Nagyszombat (1360) and of Pressburg (1360) summoned by him adjusted all the outstanding differences between the central European powers. Louis’s diplomacy, moreover, was materially assisted by his lifelong alliance with his uncle, the childless Casimir the Great of Poland, who had appointed him his successor; and on Casimir’s death Louis was solemnly crowned king of Poland at Cracow (Nov. 17, 1370). This personal union of the two countries was more glorious than profitable. Louis could give little attention to his unruly Polish subjects and was never very happy among them. Immovably entrenched behind their privileges, they rendered him only the minimum of service; but he compelled their representatives, assembled at Kassa, to recognize his daughter Maria and her affianced husband, Count Sigismund of Brandenburg, as their future king and queen by locking the gates of the city and allowing none to leave it till they had consented to his wishes (1374). Louis is the first European monarch who came into collision with the Turks. He seems to have arrested their triumphant career (c. 1372), and the fine church erected by him at Maria-Zell is a lasting memorial of his victories. From the first he took a just view of the Turkish peril, but the peculiar local and religious difficulties of the whole situation in the Balkans prevented him from dealing with it effectually (see Hungary, History). Louis died suddenly at Nagyszombat on the 10th of September 1382. He left two daughters Maria and Jadwiga (the latter he destined for the throne of Hungary) under the guardianship of his widow, the daughter of the valiant ban of Bosnia, Stephen Kotromaníc, whom he married in 1353, and who was in every way worthy of him.

See Rationes Collectorum Pontif. in Hungaria, 1281–1375 (Budapest, 1887); Dano Gruber, The Struggle of Louis I. with the Venetians for Dalmatia (Croat.) (Agram, 1903); Antal Pór, Life of Louis the Great (Hung.) (Budapest, 1892); and History of the Hungarian Nation (Hung.) (vol. 3, Budapest, 1895).  (R. N. B.)