Page:EB1911 - Volume 13.djvu/935

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910
[history
HUNGARY

force within the state, it is mainly due that a healthy political life in Hungary became henceforth impossible. The same spirit of host1l1ty to the peasantry breathed through p, ", ,, um the famous codification of the Hungarian customary law known as the Triparmum, which, though never actually formally passed into law, continued until 1845 to be the only document defining the relations of king and people, of nobles and their peasants, and of Hungary and her dependent states. 1

Wladislaus II died on the 13th of March 1516, two years after the “ Savage Diet, ” the ferocity of whose decrees he had feebly endeavoured to mitigate, leaving his two 5"°f°"“°" kingdoms to his son Louis, a child of ten, who was by the . . . .Tm ks pronounced of age in order that his foreign guardians, the emperor Maximilian and Sigismund of Poland, might be dispensed with The government remained in the hands of Cardinal Bak6cz till his death in 1521, when the supreme authority at court was disputed between the lame palatine Istvan Bathory, and his rival, the eminent jurist and orator Istvan Verboczy (q v), -both of them incompetent, unprincipled place-hunters, -vsh1le, in the background lurked Janos Zapolya (see JOHN (ZAPOLYA), KING or HUNGARY), voivode of Transylvania, patiently waiting till the death of the feeble and childless king (who, in 1522, married Maria of Austria) should open for him a way to the throne. Every one felt that a catastrophe was approaching “ Things cannot go on like this much longer, ” wrote the Venetian ambassador to his government. The war of each against all continued, no taxes could be collected, the holders of the royal domains refused to surrender them at the command of the diet; and the boy king had very often neither clothes to wear nor food to eat. The whole atmosphere of society was one of rapine and corruption, and only on the frontier a few self-sacrificing patriots like the ban-bishop, Peter Birlszlo, the last of Matthias's veterans, and his successor the saintly Pal Tomori, archbishop of Kalocsa, showed, in their ceaseless war against the predatory Turkish bands, that the ancient Magyar valour was not yet wholly extinct. But the number of the righteous men was too few to save the state. The first blow fell in 1521, when Suitan Suleiman appeared before the southern fortresses of Sabac and Belgrade, both of which fell into his hands during the course of the year. After this Venice openly declared that Hungary was no longer worth the saving. Yet the coup de grdce was postponed for another five years, during which time Suleiman was occupied with the conquest of Egypt and the siege of Rhodes. The Magyars fancied they were safe from attack, because the final assault was suspended, and everything went on in the old haphazard way. Every obstacle was opposed to the collection of the taxes which had been voted to put the kingdom in a state of defence. “ If this realm could be saved at the expense of three florins, ” exclaimed the papal envoy, Antonio Burgio, “ there is not a man here willing to make the sacrifice.” Only on the southern frontier did Archbishop Tomori painfully assemble a fresh army and fleet, and succeed, by incredible efforts, in constructing at Péterwardeln, on the right bank of the Danube, a new fortress which served him as a refuge and sally post in his interminable guerilla war with the Turks.

Ln the spring of 1526 came the tidings that Sultan Suleiman had quitted Constantinople, at the head of a countless host, to conquer Hungary. On the 28th of Tuly Péterwardein, after a valiant resistance, was blown into the air. The diet, which met at Buda in hot haste, proclaimed the young king' dictator,

1 The Opus tripartiium juris consuetudinarii rcgni Hungariae was drawn up by Verboczy at the instance of the diet in I5o7. It was approved by a committee of the diet and received the royal tmprmuztur IH 1514, but was never published. In the constitutional history of Hungary the Tnpartttum is of great importance as reasserting the fundamental equality of all the members of the popular (fa e. the whole body of the nobles) and, more especially, as defmlng the co-ordlnate power of the king and “people " in legislation: ¢.e. the king may propose laws, but they had no force without the consent of the people, and vice versa. See Knatchbull-Hugessen, I. 64.

2 He was just twenty.

granted him unlimited subsidies which there was no time to collect, and ordered a Zevée en masse of the entire male population, which could not possibly assemble within the given time. Louis at once formed a camp at Tolna, whence he issued despairing summonses to the lieges, and, by the middle of August, some 2 5,000 ill-equipped gentlemen had gathered around him. With these he marched southwards to the plain of Mohacs, where, on the 29th of August, the Hungarians, after a two hours' fight, were annihilated, the king, both the archbishops, five bishops and 24,000 men perishing on the field The sultan refused to believe that the pitiful array he had so easily overcome could be the national army of Hungary. Advancing with extreme caution, he occupied Buda on the 1 2th of September, but speedily returned to his own dominions, carrying off with him 105,000 captives, and an amount of spoil which filled the bazaars of the East for months to come. By the end of October the last Turkish regular had quitted Magyar soil, and, to use the words of a contemporary observer, one quarter of Hungary was destroyed as if a Hood had passed over it.

3 It was kept secret for some years for fear of Turkish intervention.