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They had no toil; His gracious Hand
SKETCHES FROM HUNGARIAN HISTORY.
BY THE AUTHOR OF COURAGE AND COWARDS ;''IVON,' &c.
THE LAST OF THE ARPÁDS.
A. D. 1242 TO A. D. 1278.
KING Béla's courage did not forsake him, as he gazed at the desolate country. On the contrary, he set about the task of refounding the kingdom with the greatest diligenee and judgment. He had learnt patience during his adversity, and had doubtless often regretted the hastiness, and perhaps harshness, with which he had formerly carried out his plans of reform. The people also were too much subdued by the miseries they had undergone, to be other than submissive and grateful to the King, who was doing all in his power to supply their wants and relieve their sufferings.
The first step was to send for corn and cattle from the neighbouring lands. This Béla did at his own expense; and as the people crept by degrees from their hiding-places, he encouraged them to rebuild their villages and towns, and return to their usual employments. The population was greatly diminished; but the Kumans were recalled, and settled between the Danube and Tisza, in districts still called by their descendants, “Great and Little Kumania ;' colonists were invited from Germany; and even the few Mongolians who had remained behind, especially those who had married Hungarian wives, were treated with kindness and consideration. Some of the latter, probably for the sake of their wives, were even ennobled. Great numbers of the Hungarian nobility had perished, many estates were without owners, and others were in the possession of persons whose rights were at best doubtful. Béla therefore caused public meetings to be held in the several districts, for the purpose of examining the title-deeds of those who claimed estates. No estate was given away to a new lord, without the insertion, in the title-deed, of the clause, salvo jure alieno; * as it was impossible to tell whether the ancient possessor might not still be hiding in the forests ; or, even if enslaved by the Mongolians, might not some day escape and return to claim his property. Many such romantic stories are told; and this saving clause, which had its origin in the exigencies of this particular time, was held necessary to the validity of all title-deeds, till quite recently. Germans had been for some time settled on the Danube, between the hot springs and the Blocksberg, below old Buda, and now Béla built a castle on the height opposite Pest, which seems to have been one of his favourite residences. Colonists soon gathered round him, attracted by the privileges he bestowed on them; and new Buda, as it was called, quickly rose to be the capital of Hungary.
* Saving the right of another.
But there was still the fear that the Mongolians would ere long return; and Béla, feeling that he was not yet strong enough to defend the kingdom against them, sent a petition to the Pope, Innocent IV., by Simon, the brave defender of Grán, entreating him, in the first place, to punish all who had taken advantage of Hungary's distress to plunder her borders; and secondly, to proclaim a crusade, the instant there was a rumour of the approach of the much-dreaded Mongolians. Both requests were granted, and two Moravian Abbots were chosen to make strict examination as to the persons who had so shamefully added to the misfortunes of Hungary. But, of course, the investigation could not be carried out impartially and indiscriminately. Some few robbers were indeed convicted of the crimes laid to their charge; but the chief robber of all, Friedrich of Austria, against whom Béla's complaint really lay, escaped scot-free, the Pope not daring to call him to account, lest he should revenge himself by deserting to the Emperor. A few years later (1246) the Pope sent an embassy, consisting chiefly of monks, to the Great Khan; but the mission failed either to convert the Mongolians or establish peace. There was yet another affair in which Béla found it necessary to appeal to the Pope. He was under some apprehension, and as subsequent events showed, not without cause, lest his oath to the Emperor, taken in a fit of desperation, should sooner or later be made a pretext for claiming Hungary as a fief of the empire. In this instance the Pope could afford to be just, and therefore declared the oath null and void, inasmuch as the Emperor, having made no effort to drive away the Mongolians, had entirely failed to keep his part of the bargain.
The Prince of Galicia, then a fief of Hungary, had fled from the Mongolians to Bohemia, and the fief being vacant, Béla had bestowed it on his son-in-law Rostislaw; but this was a case in which the savingclause proved to be no mere romance, for the former Prince, Daniel, returned, and after some fruitless campaigning, Béla, afraid of provoking him to call the Mongolians to his assistance, judged it better to leave him in peaceable possession, gave him his daughter Constantia to wife, and two years later even obtained for him from the Pope the title of king.
At the yearly Diet, held at Stuhlweissenburg in 1245, Béla, according to the almost universal custom of the time, caused his son István, then five years old, to be crowned, and created him Duke of Sclavonia, which at that time comprehended Croatia and Dalmatia. At the same time, to attach the Kumans more closely to Hungary, he betrothed him to the Kumay Princess Erzsébet, probably a daughter of the murdered Kuthen.
Four years only had elapsed since the departure of the Mongolians; and now, though ample traces still remained of the ruin caused by them, the country had in a measure recovered, and was beginning to hold up its head. *
Marvellously rapid must the recovery have been, for in 1246, we find Béla sufficiently strong to think of recovering the three counties taken from him by Friedrich of Austria. The campaign was perfectly successful, the provinces were re-united to Hungary, and Friedrich himself, the last of the Babenbergs, fell in battle by the hand of Béla's faithful friend, Count Frangepán, Any desire which Béla may have had to push his successful arms yet further, was effectually stopped by a rumour that the Mongolians, who still possessed Russia, were preparing for another invasion of Hungary. The first thing to be thought of was some means of defence. The lands to the east and west of Transylvania had been so ytterly depopulated and wasted, that they had, after the departure of the Mongolians, fallen naturally and entirely under the dominion of Hungary. Béla therefore gave the Banat Szörény, together
* Jókai Mór remarks (A Magyar Nemzet története, regényes rajzokban) that after every great national calamity, such as the Mongolian invasion, the male population of Hungary increased at an unusual rate. He mentions in support of his assertion the following story, which recalls that of the origin of the Guelfi. Shortly after the flight of the Mongolians, a peasant woman came to Ecsed, the castle of Miczbán, to beg assistance for herself and her three lately-born children. But the lady of the castle turned angrily from her, refusing to believe that the children were twin-born; and the woman, as she went away, called God to witness that she had spoken truth. Her prayer was heard, and in the course of the same year, Miczban's wife, to her great horror, became the mother not of three but seven children, all sons. Six of them she gave to her nurse to be put out of the way, hoping thus to escape the contempt which she felt she deserved. But the nurse, instead of destroying the children, gave them to Miczbán the father, who had them brought up in secret ; and one day presented them to his wife, dressed in clothes exactly like those worn by the child she had kept. The mother, overcome with joy and penitence, embraced them all; and the seven sons, after growing up together, became the founders of families much distinguished in Hungarian history. This circumstance was long to be seen represented on a mantel-piece in Castle Ecsed. Jókai further observes that Miczbán's father had been a Spaniard, and yet the seven sons were thorough Magyars, and adds, “This country (Hungary) has the divine power of creating Magyars. Whoever sets foot in it becomes Magyar. The dwellers at the foot of the mountains were once Italian, now they are Magyar; several districts exist which bear the name of Burgundy, and were formerly, of course, inhabited by Burgundian colonists, but they are now Magyar; many of the royal towns were originally German ; Turks, Kumans, Tatars, Bulgarians, Jászok, have all had settlements in the kingdom; and a hundred years after their arrival the only memorial of their origin was to be found in the names of their villages. The Magyar has been rooted
ut almost to the last man ; the Mongolians trod him underfoot for nearly three years, the Turks for a hundred and fifty; his language and nationality have been assailed by the introduction at one time of the Latin, at another of the German language and customs; and still, in spite of the vicissitudes of so many hundred years, the Magyar race has rather increased than diminished.
with part of Wallachia, and the whole of Kumania, (now Moldavia,) to the Knights of S. John, to be held by them as a fief, under condition of their defending it, re-peopling it, (but not from Hungary or Transylvania,) and building towns and castles. Their General, Rembald I., further pledged bimself to furnish the King with a hundred soldiers against the Mongolians, and fifty against any Christian power ; but whether the knights found themselves unable to observe the conditions, or from some other cause, we shortly afterwards meet with a royal Ban of Szörény. Northern Servia too was erected into a Banat, called Macsó, and the first Ban was Béla's son-in-law, Rostislaw, whose possession of Galicia had been so short-lived. He had hitherto been governing Croatia and Dalmatia for the young Prince István; but the regency of these provinces was now given to Count Subich, whose wise administration won for him the love of the people and the favour of the King.
While Béla was thus arranging the affairs of Hungary, great confusion reigned throughout the German Empire. Friedrich of Austria had oppressed his people, and had spared neither blood nor treasure for the aggrandizement of his house ; he had divorced three wives for the sake of leaving an heir to his wealth and glory; but he had nevertheless died childless, and without so much as appointing an heir to the dukedom. Consequently, the Emperor justly claiming it as a vacant fief, appointed Count Ebersberg as governor, till be should decide to which of the various claimants he would give it. He was naturally inclined to favour his own grandson, whose mother, Margaretha, was the late Duke's eldest sister; but the King of Bohemia, Wenzel I., claimed part of North Austria, as having been given him by the Duke; (1236.) and the Duke of Bavaria was anxious to seize this favourable opportunity for recovering a district alienated from his duchy since 1156 A. D. Béla had indeed no claim, but he also hoped to get a share, if not the whole of the duchy, for it was decidedly to Hungary's interest that the Emperor should not become her immediate neighbour, and also that she should herself, if possible, win a mountain-frontier on the west, her 'natural boundary,' as it was called. The Pope, once the Emperor's friend, but now his most implacable foe, used all his strength to snatch from him Austria and Steyermark; and finally, a large party in the provinces themselves, chose for their Duke, Hermann of Baden, who had married Friedrich's niece Gertrude.
Affairs remained in this uncertain state, varied by intervals of open war between the contending parties, till 1250, when they became yet more complicated by the death, first of Hermann, and shortly after, of the Emperor. In his will, he appointed his grandson Friedrich, feudal Duke of Austria ; but the death of Friedrich prevented the realization of his wishes. His son, Konrad IV., had too much to do in fighting with
* Margaretha, Duke Friedrich's eldest sister, was the widow of Heinrich, King of the Romans, who had been imprisoned for rebellion against his father, the Emperor, and had died at Messina, 1242.
the Pope's protégé, Count William of Holland, the rival King of the Romans, to have leisure to concern himself about Austria, which finally chose Ottokar, son of the King of Bohemia, as her Duke. To establish himself more securely, Ottokar married Margaretha, who solemnly made over to her young husband her real or supposed rights. Steyermark, however, having been united to the house of Babenberg (1186) rather than to the Duchy of Austria, now chose to be independent, and invited Heinrich of Bavaria, (son-in-law of Béla,) to be her Duke. He, however, probably feeling himself too feeble to contend with Ottokar, persuaded the Styrians to accept in his stead, István, Béla's eldest son. War with Ottokar of course ensued; but after much blood had been shed, and many towns and villages had been plundered on both sides, István was finally established in Steyermark, with the wise Count Subich (Ban of Croatia) as his regent. It was, however, no quiet resting-place, for Austria was not disposed to acquiesce peaceably in the loss of Steyermark, and, from some cause or other, the Hungarians were not popular with the Styrians. Count Subich, being still Ban of Croatia, was obliged to delegate many of his duties, and mismanagement, jealousies, and heartburnings, were the natural consequences. Ottokar did not fail to profit by the discontent, and Steyermark became the scene of almost incessant warfare till 1258, when István, being eighteen years old, himself assumed the reins of government.
In the following year, there appeared at the Hungarian court an embassy from the Mongolian Khan of Kaptschak, proposing an alliance, matrimonial and military, which Béla declined, in spite of the Khan's threat, that, if his friendship were not accepted, he would come and take terrible vengeance. Béla however perceived that the acceptance of his overtures would not only alienate Hungary from the other nations of Europe, but would also make her a vassal of the Mongolian Empire. He therefore lost no time in sending to Rome to beg that the Pope and the other Princes of Europe would not this time suffer his kingdom to become the prey of the barbarians. The sort of half threat, half warning, with which he closes his petition, is rather comical, considering that he was seeking assistance; but it shows clearly enough how very sensitive were the Kings of Hungary to any encroachments on the part of Rome. Béla hopes that the Pope will for the future abstain from demanding money, from illegally nominating persons to ecclesiastical dignities, and especially from forcing foreign priests upon Hungary, unless he wishes to alienate the hearts of the Hungarians from the Holy See, and drive them into an alliance with the Mongolians. The Pope promised all he asked; but the tone of his letter shewed that he was aggrieved by these imputations, and he could not forbear remarking, that though he yielded the contested points, there was no other kingdom in the world which had so little cause to complain of Rome as Hungary.'
For this time Béla was spared another Mongolian invasion; but he had enough on his hands, for Ottokar's agents had been busy in fomenting