Page:Cambridge Modern History Volume 1.djvu/372

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was hardly less comprehensive and elaborate than were his numerous campaigns. Yet, with all his successes and triumphs, Matthias, like the Emperor Charles V at a later date, belongs to a class of rulers more interesting by their personality than important by reason of their work. Like Charles, Matthias triumphed over persons rather than over causes. He humbled nearly all his opponents, and his statue or image was set up at Bautzen as well as at Breslau, in Vienna, and in the border-fortress of Jajcza, far down in Bosnia. When on April 6, 1490, Matthias breathed his last, he left the interests of his only, but illegitimate son, John Corvinus, and those of his realm, in so insecure a condition that no less than four or five rival candidates were striving for the Crown which he had fondly hoped to secure for his amiable but weakly son.

The oligarchs decided to confer the Crown upon Wladislav of Bohemia, a prince of the Polish House of the Jagellos, whose indolent character promised well for their ardent desire of retrieving the ascendancy which they had long since lost under Matthias1 stern rule. The campaign of his competitor Maximilian, the Emperor's son, broke down, while Wladislav's other competitor, his brother Albert, since 1492 King of Poland, was persuaded by him to withdraw. Thus began the period of Wladislav IPs reign over Hungary (1490-1516) during which the country, both at home and abroad, was rapidly falling into ruin. The King, commonly called "Dobzse Ldszlo" from his habit of saying "dobzse" ("all right") to everything, was a mere plaything in the hands of Thomas Bakdcz, the all-powerful Primate, of George Szakmary, the Bishop of Pecs, and of Emericus Perenyi, the Palatine. This Primate is the Hungarian Cardinal Wolsey. Like the great English prelate he commanded all the resources of clerical subtlety, and knew how to humiliate himself for a season. Like Wolsey, he aimed at the highest object of ecclesiastic ambition, the Papacy, and because of the same fatal conflict within him of two contradictory ambitions failed alike to render good service to his country, and to fulfil his hierarchical aspirations.

The Court-party centring in Bakdcz was opposed by the adherents of the powerful House of the Zapolyai, who after Stephen; Zapolyai's death in 1499, put up his son John as the national candidate for the Crown. John's friends, chiefly the childless and wealthy Lawrence Ujlaky, counted on the King's imbecility in council and war; and finally John proposed to Wladislav repeatedly, and even in threatening fashion, a marriage between him and the King's first child Anne. Wladislav, however, with the cunning which often accompanies dulness, contrived to obtain delay after delay, together with new treaty-assurances from the Emperor Maximilian, until his French wife, Anne de Candale, a kinswoman of Louis XII, King of France, bore him in 1506, a son, Louis, whose birth put an end to the intrigues of John Zapolyai.