Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/371

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helped to mitigate the condition of the rural population. The burgesses of the towns, mostly Germans, played,—as in Hungary and Poland,—a very subordinate part, and were admitted to the Diet only after the great Hussite upheaval, in the middle of the fifteenth century. The Diet of Bohemia (mem), and that of Moravia, were considerably better organised for efficient work than was the case with the Diet in Hungary. In Moravia there were four Estates (magnates, prelates, knights, and towns), in Bohemia only three, the clergy having here, as in England about the same time, disappeared as a separate Estate from the Diet. The assemblies were not frequented by unmanageable numbers, and were accordingly less tumultuous and more efficient than the national assemblies in Hungary. Yet the proper sphere of the influence wielded by the gentry was the Privy Council (rada zemska), where the Kmets, or Senwres, advised and controlled the King. When we reach the period specially treated here, we find Bohemia practically governed by a caste-like oligarchy, and uncontrolled either, as in Hungary, by a numerous and strong minor gentry, or, as in England, by a strong King.

From 1458 to 1490 Hungary had been ruled by King Matthias Corvinus, son of John Hunyadi, the great warrior and crusader. Matthias was in many ways the counterpart of his contemporary Louis XI of France, except that he surpassed the French ruler in military gifts. Both of them were, like so many of their fellow-monarchs of that time, historical illustrations of Machiavelli's Prince:-unscrupulous, cold, untiringly at work, filled with great ambitions, orderly, systematic, and patrons of learning. Matthias, whom the popular legend in Hungary has raised to the heights of an ideally just ruler ("King Matthias is dead, justice has disappeared" said the common people) had, as a matter of fact, made short work of many of the liberties and rights of his subjects. He controlled and checked the turbulent oligarchs with an iron hand; and his "black legion" of Hussite and other mercenaries,—his standing army, in a word, and as such an illegal institution in Hungary,—was employed by him with the same relentless vigour against refractory Magyars as against Turks or Austrians. In his wars he was particularly fortunate. On the Turks he inflicted severe punishment, and his Herculean general Paul Kinizsi, aided by Stephen Batori, completely routed them at Kenyermezci near Szaszvaros (Broos) on the Maros river in Transylvania, October 13, 1479.

It has already been seen how in 1477, Matthias, after a successful war against Wladislav of Bohemia, obtained by the Treaty of Olmiitz the larger portion of the territory of the Bohemian Crown. In 1485 the great Corvinus was still more successful. On May 23 of that year, Vienna capitulated to him as victor over the Emperor Frederick III; and thus he added Lower Austria to his vast domain. Nor were his successes gained only by laborious fighting. His diplomatic activity