1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Thököly, Imre
THÖKÖLY, IMRE (Emerich), Prince (1657-1705), Hungarian statesman, was born at Késmark on the 25th of September 1657. He lost both parents while still a child. In 1670, fleeing from the dangers of Upper Hungary, where the Protestants and Imperialists were constantly in arms against each other, he took refuge with his kinsman Michael Teleki, the chief minister of Michael Apafy, prince of Transylvania. Here he came into contact with the Magyar refugees, who had great hopes of the high-born, high-gifted youth who was also a fellow sufferer, a large portion of his immense estates having been confiscated by the emperor. The discontent reached its height when Leopold (Feb. 27, 1673) suspended the Hungarian constitution, appointed Johan Caspar Ampringen dictator, deprived 450 Protestant clergy of their livings and condemned 67 more to the galleys. Encouraged by promises of help from Louis XIV., the Magyars now rose pro libertate et justitia, and chose the youthful Thököly as their leader. The war began in 1679. Upper Hungary and the mining towns were soon in Thököly's possession. In 1681, reinforced by 10,000 Transylvanians and a Turkish army under the pasha of Nagyvárad, he compelled the emperor to grant an armistice. On the 15th of June 1682 he married Helen Zrinyi, the widow of Prince Francis Rákóczy I. Thököly's distrust of the emperor now induced him to turn for help to the sultan, who recognized him as prince of Upper Hungary on condition that he paid an annual tribute of 40,000 florins. In the course of the same year Thököly captured fortress after fortress from the emperor and extended his dominions to the Waag. He refused, however, the title of king offered to him by the Turks. At the two Diets held by him, at Kassa and Tálya, in 1683, the estates, though not uninfluenced by his personal charm, showed some want of confidence in him, fearing lest he might sacrifice the national independence to the Turkish alliance. They refused therefore to grant him either subsidies or a levée en masse, and he had to take what he wanted by force. Thököly materially assisted the Turks in the Vienna campaign of 1683, and shared the fate of the gigantic Turkish army. The grand vizier nevertheless laid the blame of the failure on Thököly, who thereupon hastened to Adrianople to defend himself before the sultan. Shortly afterwards, perceiving that the Turkish cause was now lost, he sought the mediation of Sobieski to reconcile him with the emperor, offering to lay down his arms if Leopold would confirm the religious rights of the Magyar Protestants and grant him, Thököly, the thirteen north-eastern counties of Hungary with the title of prince. Leopold refused these terms and demanded an unconditional surrender. Thököly then renewed the war. But the campaign of 1685 was a series of disasters, and when he sought help from the Turks at Nagyvarad they seized and sent him in chains to Belgrade, possibly because of his previous negotiations with Leopold, whereupon most of his followers made their peace with the emperor. In 1686 Thököly was released from his dungeon and sent with a small army into Transylvania, but both this expedition and a similar one in 1688 ended in failure. The Turks then again grew suspicious of him and imprisoned him a second time. In 1690, however, the Turks despatched him into Transylvania a third time with 16,000 men, and in September he routed the united forces of General Heister and Michael Teleki at Zernest. After this great victory Thököly was elected prince of Transylvania by the Kereszténymez Diet, but could only maintain his position against the imperial armies with the utmost difficulty. In 1691 he quitted Transylvania altogether. He led the Turkish cavalry at the battle of Slankamen, and in fact served valiantly but vainly against Austria during the remainder of the war, especially distinguishing himself at Zenta. He was excluded by name from the amnesty promised to the Hungarian rebels by the peace of Karlowitz (Jan. 26, 1699). After one more unsuccessful attempt, in 1700, to recover his principality, he settled down at Galata with his wife. From the sultan he received large estates and the title of count of Widdin. He was buried in the great Armenian cemetery at Nicomedia, but in the course of 1906 his relics were transferred to Hungary.
See Correspondence of Thököly (Hung.), ed. by Kálmán Thaly (Budapest, 1896); V. Fraknói, Papst Innocent XI. und Ungarn's Befreiung von de Turkenherrschaft (Freiburg, 1902); Memoirs of Emeric Count Teckely (London, 1693); Correspondence of Michael Teleki (Hung.), ed. by S. Gergely (Budapest, 1905-1906).
(R. N. B.)