Charles I of Hungary

Charles I
King of Hungary, King of Croatia
Chronicon Pictum I Karoly Robert.jpg
Reign July 12, 1312 – July 16, 1342
Born 1288
Naples, Kingdom of Naples
Died July 16, 1342 (aged 54)
Visegrád, Kingdom of Hungary
Predecessor Otto III, Duke of Bavaria
Successor Louis I of Hungary
Consort Mary of Bytom
Beatrix of Luxembourg
Elizabeth of Poland
Royal House House of Anjou-Hungary
Father Charles Martel of Anjou
Mother Klementia of Habsburg

Charles I of Hungary (1288, Naples, Italy – July 16, 1342, Visegrád, Hungary, is also known as Charles Robert, Charles Robert of Anjou, and Charles Robert of Anjou-Hungary, King of Hungary and King of Croatia (1308-1342). He belonged to the royal house of Anjou-Hungary, was a patrilineal descendant of the capetian dynasty of Anjou (Anjou-Sicily) and a matrilineal descendant of the Árpád dynasty. His claim to the throne of Hungary was contested by several pretenders. Nevertheless, although he was only a child when his grandfather, King Charles II of Naples sent him to Hungary in 1300, Charles could strengthen his rule in the kingdom against his opponents and the powerful magnates following a long series of internal struggles. Charles also carried out numerous important political and economical reforms: he established the so-called honor system which made the powerful barons dependent of his favor and he introduced new coins with a constantly high purity of gold. Charles's foreign policy largely stemmed from dynastic alliances.

Contents

His most successful achievement was the mutual defense union with Poland and Bohemia against the Habsburgs. Charles also endeavored to enforce his or his descendants' claim to the Kingdom of Naples, but he could achieve only sham results. Nevertheless, he was one of the most successful rulers of the Kingdom of Hungary whose efforts established his successor's achievements. Hungary's rulers, as did Charles, often secured their nation's survival through alliances with others. This strategy, over time, has had the effect of nurturing an ethos and outlook that locates Hungary and Hungarians within the broader context of membership of the human family. Hungarians have migrated to surrounding states and further afield and have often welcomed migrants into Hungary, at time, such as after the Mongol invasion of 1241, to assist in the task of rebuilding the country. To a considerable degree, this legacy of cooperation, co-existence and acceptance of the full humanity of others, owes a debt to Charles I's example of forming alliances.

Childhood

Charles was the only son of Charles Martel, Prince of Salerno and his wife Clementia, a daughter of King Rudolph I of Germany. His paternal grandmother, Mary, a daughter of King Stephen V of Hungary, declared her claim to Hungary following the death of her brother, King Ladislaus IV of Hungary, but the majority of the country accepted the rule of her distant cousin, King Andrew III. Nevertheless, Mary transferred her claim to Hungary to her eldest son, Charles Martel on January 6, 1292, who was also the heir to the Kingdom of Naples, but he was never able to enforce his claim against King Andrew III and died on August 19, 1295.

After his father's death, the child Charles inherited the claim to Hungary, but his grandfather, King Charles II of Naples appointed his younger son (Charles' paternal uncle), Robert to his heir in Naples on February 13, 1296. This decree was confirmed by Pope Boniface VIII, the overlord of the Kingdom of Naples, on February 27, 1297, so Charles lost his claim to the throne of Naples.

Struggle for Hungary

In the beginning of 1300, a powerful magnate, Paul Šubić accepted Charles' title to the kingdom and invited him to Hungary. His grandfather accepted the invitation and granted Charles a smaller amount of money and sent him to Hungary to enforce his claim against King Andrew III. Charles disembarked in Split in August 1300 and he went to Zagreb where he was accepted as King of Hungary by Ugrin Csák, another influential magnate of the kingdom.

When King Andrew III died on January 14, 1301, Charles' partisans took him to Esztergom where the Archbishop Gregory Bicskei crowned him with an occasional crown because the Holy Crown of Hungary was guarded by his opponents. The majority of the magnates of the kingdom, however, did not accept his rule and proclaimed Wenceslaus, the son of Wenceslaus II of Bohemia king. The young Wenceslaus accepted the election and engaged the daughter of King Andrew III and he was crowned with the Holy Crown of Hungary in Székesfehérvár by Archbishop John of Kalocsa.

After his opponent's coronation, Charles withdrew to Slavonia where his partisans strengthened his rule. In September 1302, he laid siege to Buda, but he could not occupy the capital of the kingdom and had to withdraw to Slavonia again. Pope Boniface VIII confirmed Charles' claim to Hungary on May 31, 1303 and his maternal uncle, King Albert I of Germany also provided him military assistance. In the summer of 1304, King Wenceslaus II of Bohemia arrived to Hungary in order to help his son to strengthen his rule in the kingdom. However, the King of Bohemia had to realize soon that his son's position in Hungary was unstable; therefore he decided to retreat and his son followed him. On hearing his opponents retreat, Charles made an alliance with Duke Rudolph I of Austria and they attacked Bohemia but they could not occupy Kutná Hora and Charles had to retreat to Hungary.

Nevertheless, the majority of the Hungarian magnates did not accept Charles' rule. In August 1305, his opponent, Wenceslaus, who had inherited Bohemia from his father, renounced his claim to Hungary on behalf of Otto III, Duke of Bavaria, who was a grandson of King Béla IV of Hungary. Otto arrived to Hungary soon and he was crowned with the Holy Crown of Hungary in Székesfehérvár by the Bishops of Veszprém and Csanád on December 6. However, Otto was not able to strengthen his rule, either. In the course of 1306, Charles occupied Esztergom, Spiš Castle, Zvolen and some other fortresses in the northern parts of the kingdom, and in the next year he also occupied Buda.

In June 1307, Duke Otto III visited the powerful Voivode of Transylvania, Ladislaus Kán, but the latter arrested him. On October 10, 1307, the magnates presented at the assembly in Rákos proclaimed Charles king, but the most powerful aristocrats (Máté Csák, Amadé Aba and Ladislaus Kán) ignored him. At the end of the year, Ladislaus Kán set Charles' opponent free and Otto left the country, but the Voivode of Transylvania denied to hand over the Holy Crown of Hungary to Charles, whose legitimacy could be questioned without the coronation with the Holy Crown.

Struggles with the magnates

After Otto's escape, Charles stood alone as claimant to the throne of Hungary, but large parts of his kingdom were under the rule of powerful aristocrats and even his alleged partisans ignored his royal prerogatives. His position slightly strengthened when the legate of Pope Clement V arrived to Hungary in June 1308, who persuaded Máté Csák to recognize Charles' reign on their meeting in the Monastery of Kékes. On November 27, 1308, Máté Csák was also present at the assembly in Pest where Charles was again proclaimed King of Hungary. Following the assembly, the synod of the prelates in Buda confirmed the theory of the inviolability of the king and the bishops also summoned Ladislaus Kán to return the Holy Crown of Hungary to Charles. However, the Voivode of Transylvania denied the request; therefore the Papal legate had a new crown made for Charles and he was crowned with the new crown by Archbishop Tamás of Esztergom on June 15, 1309. Finally, under the threats of the Papal legate, Ladislaus Kán handed over the Holy Crown and Charles was, for the third time, crowned with the Holy Crown on August 27, 1310 by the Archbishop of Esztergom.

In the summer of 1311, Máté Csák laid siege to Charles' capital, Buda, but Charles forced back his attack. Shortly afterwards, the citizens of Košice murdered Amade Aba, who had been one of Charles' main partisans, but Charles took the side of the citizens against Amade Aba's sons; consequently, the latters allied themselves with Máté Csák. Charles laid siege to Máté Csák's castle, Šariš Castle in May 1312, but he was forced to retreat by the troops of the powerful magnate. Then the allied armies of Máté Csák and Amade Aba's sons marched against Košice but Charles defeated them in the Battle of Rozgony on July 12, 1312. After the victory, Charles managed to occupy some castles of Amade Aba's sons in the counties of Abaúj, Torna and Sáros.

In 1314, Charles reoccupied from Austria Devín Castle, taking advantage of the internal conflicts in the Holy Roman Empire, and in the first half of 1315 he managed to reoccupy also the Castle of Visegrád from Máté Csák. At about that time, he married Mary of Bytom, a daughter of Duke Casimir of Bytom.

In the course of May 1316, Charles was struggling against the family Kőszegi, but some magnates of the eastern part of his kingdom, lead by Kopasz Borsa, rebelled against him and offered the Holy Crown to King Andrew of Halych, who himself was also a descendant of King Béla IV of Hungary. Charles' troops, however, defeated the rebels and occupied their castles in the counties of Bihar, Szolnok, Borsod and Kolozs. In May 1317, his armies also suppressed the revolt of Amade Aba's sons, and he could occupy the Castle of Komárom from Máté Csák in October.

Charles raised the funds of his military actions by seizing ecclesiastical properties; therefore the prelates made an alliance in 1318 and they demanded that the Estates of the realm be summoned to a general assembly. However, the Estates did not raise objections against the king's policies at their assembly in July. During the year, his troops occupied several fortresses of the deceased Ladislaus Kán's sons in Transylvania.

After his first wife's death, the widowed Charles married Beatrix of Luxemburg, daughter of Henry VII, Holy Roman Emperor and sister of King John I of Bohemia, probably in September 1318. In the summer of 1319, he led his armies against King Stefan Uroš II Milutin of Serbia, who had occupied the southern part of the Kingdom of Hungary, and defeated the Serbian troops near Macsó. After his victory, Charles reoccupied Beograd and also the territory of the Banate of Macsó. At that time, Charles began to reorganize the financial basis of the royal power by declaring that it is only the king who is entitled to open new custom-houses in the kingdom.

His second wife, Beatrix and her only child died at its birth on October 11, 1319. Charles, having widowed for the second time, married Elisabeth, a daughter of King Wladislaus I of Poland on July 6, 1320.

The death of Máté Csák on March 21, 1321, the most powerful aristocrat in the kingdom, resulted in the disintegration of his provinces and Charles' troops could occupy all the fortresses of the deceased baron till the end of the year. In January 1322, the towns in Dalmatia rebelled against the rule of Ban Mladen Subić, whose family had been among Charles' first supporters. Charles, taking advantage of the situation, went to Dalmatia and arrested the powerful Ban and enstrengthened his power in Croatia and Dalmatia.

The restoration of the royal power

Charles carried out numerous important political and economical reforms. In the beginning of 1323, he renounced the royal prerogative of undermining the currency and introduced a new tax (lucrum camaræ) in order to ensure the permanency of the royal revenues. In the same year, Charles transferred his seat to Visegrád from Timişoara.

Coats of Arms of Charles I of Anjou, King of Hungary

Charles established the so-called honor system: instead of large donations, faithful servants of the king were given an office (in Latin honor), thus they became the keeper of royal property (including castles) in the counties and the representative of the king. However, these offices were not given for eternity, because the king could deprive his people of their office any time. Most powerful honors often rotated among the members of aristocracy.

Charles successfully curbed inflation, introducing new coins with a constantly high purity of gold. Florins minted, from 1325, in a newly established mint in Kremnica became soon the popular international means of payment throughout Europe. The reform of the currency and of the whole fiscal system greatly contributed to enrich the treasury.

Foreign policy

Charles's foreign policy largely stemmed from dynastic alliances and he also endeavored to strengthen his rule over the neighboring territories that had accepted the supremacy of the Kings of Hungary in the course of the thirteenth century.

Charles lead, already in 1324, his armies against Voivode Basarab I of Wallachia who had occupied the Banat of Severin from the Kingdom of Hungary and defeated him. Wallachian sepherds rolled down cliffs from hills in a canyon. Charles rebuilt quickly his armies. Bassarab paid tributes to Charles.

His most successful achievement was the mutual defense union with Poland and Bohemia against the Habsburgs, accomplished by the convention of Trenčín in 1335, confirmed the same year at the brilliant two-month congress of Visegrád. Not only did all the princes of Central Europe compose their differences and enjoy splendid entertainment during the months of October and November: the immediate result of the congress was a combined attack by the Hungarians and Poles upon Louis IV, Holy Roman Emperor and his ally the Habsburg Duke Albert II of Austria, which resulted in favor of Charles in 1337.

Charles's desire to unite the kingdoms of Hungary and Naples under his eldest son Louis I was dashed by Venice and by the Pope, who both feared Hungary might become the dominant Adriatic power. Nevertheless he was more than compensated for this disappointment by his compact in 1339 with his ally and brother-in-law, Casimir III of Poland, whereby it was agreed that Louis should succeed to the Polish throne on the death of the childless Casimir. Finally his younger son, Andrew, Duke of Calabria was promised the crown of Naples.

Deterioration of the southern frontier

Romantic painting Charles' army wear hussar clothes
Posada Battle

The Árpád kings had succeeded in encircling their whole southern frontier with six military colonies or banates, comprising, roughly speaking, Little Wallachia (southern part of present-day Romania) and the northern parts of present-day Bulgaria, Serbia and Bosnia. Charles redistributed these territories and proselytized the residents of the region to consolidate his reign.

Although he managed to expand his kingdom, the adverse effect was converting most of the old banates into semi-independent and violently anti-Hungarian principalities. The predominant religion of the area was Greek-Orthodox, and forceful proselytization to Catholicism provoked rebellion. Natural dynastic competition with the Orthodox Serbian and Bulgarian tsars and the emergence of a new Wallachia also contributed to the uprising.

Prior to 1320, Western Wallachia (Oltenia) was regarded by the Hungarians as part of the banate of Szörény (Severin). When the Wallachian ruler, Basarab I showed signs of disobedience, Charles lead his army into Wallachia, though poor supplies caused him to return after occupying several towns. On his return November 9, 1330, the Hungarian army got lost between the mountains. The Wallachians and Hungarians signed a peace treaty and Basarab vowed to show them out of the mountain pass, but in fact the Wallachians trapped the Hungarians in an ambush at Posada. In the Battle of Posada, King Charles barely escaped, by exchanging clothes with one of his knights. This incident marked the beginning of Wallachia as an independent voivodeship.

Unknown to Charles, the Ottoman Turks had already secured Asia Minor under the sultans Osman I and Orhan I and planned to invade southeastern Europe to consolidate their realm. The southeastern European sovereignties were keener on securing their regimes than on coordinating their defenses. Their diversity helped the Ottomans expand their dominion into the region.

Death

Charles died on July 16, 1342, and was laid beside the high altar in Székesfehérvár, the ancient burial place of the Árpáds.

Marriages and children

First marriage

Charles married three times.[1] His first wife was Mary of Bytom, a member of the Piast dynasty. She died childless on December 15, 1317 in Temesvár.[2] She was a daughter of Casimir, Duke of Bytom and his wife Helena. Her paternal grandparents were Ladislaus I, Duke of Opole and Euphemia of Greater Poland.

Ladislaus was a son of Kasimir I, Duke of Opole and Viola of Bulgaria. Euphemia was a daughter of W_adys_aw Odonic, Duke of Greater Poland and his wife Hedwig.[3]

Kasimir I was a son of Mieszko I Tanglefoot and his wife Ludmilla.[4]

Second marriage

In 1318, Charles married his second wife Beatrix of Luxembourg. She was a daughter of Henry VII, Holy Roman Emperor and Margaret of Brabant. Beatrix was a younger sister of both John of Bohemia and Marie de Luxembourg, Queen of France. In November, 1319, Beatrix died after giving birth to a stillborn child.[5]

Third marriage

On July 6, 1320, Charles married his third wife Elizabeth of Poland. She was a daughter of Władysław I the Elbow-high and Jadwiga of Greater Poland.[6] Her maternal grandparents were Boleslaus of Greater Poland and Jolenta of Hungary. They had five sons:

  • Charles (1321).
  • Ladislaus (Belgrade, November 1, 1324 – February 24, 1329).
  • Louis I of Hungary (1326–1382).
  • Andrew, Duke of Calabria (1327–1345).
  • Stephen, Duke of Slavonia (1332–1354).

Mistress

Charles had a mistress named Elisabeth Csák, daughter of George Csák. They were parents to Coloman of Hungary, Bishop of Győr (1318-1375/1376).[1]

Legacy

Charles carried out numerous important political and economical reforms: he established the so-called honor system which made the powerful barons dependent of his favor and he introduced new coins with a constantly high purity of gold. Charles's foreign policy largely stemmed from dynastic alliances. His most successful achievement was the mutual defense union with Poland and Bohemia against the Habsburgs. Charles also endeavored to enforce his or his descendants' claim to the Kingdom of Naples, but he could achieve only sham results. Nevertheless, he was one of the most successful rulers of the Kingdom of Hungary whose efforts established his successor's achievements.

Hungary was at times a power in the region. De Puy says that Charles I "made Hungary the most powerful country in Christendom."[7] At other times, Hungary was the target of conquest and invasion. At the crossroads between the East and West of Europe and bordering the Balkans, which for centuries were under Ottoman rule, Hungary sat on the frontier of civilizations, cultures and religions. Hungary's rulers, as did Charles, often secured their nation's survival through alliances with others. This strategy, over time, has had the effect of nurturing a ethos and outlook that locates Hungary and Hungarians within the broader context of membership of the human family. Hungarians have migrated to surrounding states and further afield and have often welcomed migrants into Hungary, at time, such as after the Battle of Mohi in 1241, to assist in the task of rebuilding the country. To a considerable degree, this legacy of cooperation, co-existence and acceptance of the full humanity of others, owes a debt to Charles I's example of forming alliances.

Ancestors

Preceded by:
Béla V
King of Hungary
1308–1342
Succeeded by:
Louis I
Preceded by:
Andrew III
King of Croatia
1301–1342
Succeeded by:
Louis I'

Notes

  1. 1.0 1.1 Profile of Charles. Foundation for Medieval Genealogy and Charles Cawley. Retrieved January 24, 2009.
  2. Profile of Maria. Foundation for Medieval Genealogy and Charles Cawley. Retrieved January 24, 2009.
  3. Profile of W_adys_aw of Poland. Foundation for Medieval Genealogy and Charles Cawley. Retrieved January 24, 2009.
  4. Profile of Mieszko. Foundation for Medieval Genealogy and Charles Cawley. Retrieved January 24, 2009.
  5. Profile of Beatrix. Foundation for Medieval Genealogy and Charles Cawley. Retrieved January 24, 2009.
  6. Profile of Władysław Prince of southern Kujavia, Brześć and Dobrzyń. Foundation for Medieval Genealogy and Charles Cawley. Retrieved January 24, 2009.
  7. De Puy, 51.

References

  • Cartledge, Bryan. 2006. The will to survive: a history of Hungary. Tiverton: Timewell Press. ISBN 9781857252125.
  • Kósa, László. 1999. A cultural history of Hungary. Budapest: Corvina. ISBN 9789631348361.
  • Molnár, Miklós. 2001. A concise history of Hungary. Cambridge concise histories. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780521661423.
  • De Puy, Henry W. 1852. Kossuth and his generals: with a brief history of Hungary; select speeches of Kossuth; etc. Buffalo: Phinney. OCLC 2827817
  • Sugar, Peter F., Péter Hanák, and Tibor Frank. 1994. A history of Hungary. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. ISBN 9780253208675.

This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain.

External links

All links retrieved February 3, 2017.

  • Hungary. Foundation for Medieval Genealogy and Charles Cawley.
  • Luxembourg. Foundation for Medieval Genealogy and Charles Cawley.
  • Poland. Foundation for Medieval Genealogy and Charles Cawley.
  • Silesia. Foundation for Medieval Genealogy and Charles Cawley.

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