Charles I of Hungary
|King of Hungary and Croatia|
|Reign||12 July 1312 – 16 July 1342|
|Spouse||Maria of Bytom
Beatrix of Luxembourg
Elisabeth of Poland
|Catherine, Duchess of Świdnica
Louis I, King of Hungary
Andrew, Duke of Calabria
Stephen, Duke of Slavonia
|House||House of Anjou-Hungary|
|Father||Charles Martel of Anjou|
|Mother||Clementia of Habsburg|
Naples, Kingdom of Naples
|Died||16 July 1342 (aged 54)
Visegrád, Kingdom of Hungary
Charles I (1288 – 16 July 1342), also known as Charles Robert (Caroberto) (Hungarian: Károly Róbert), was the first King of Hungary and Croatia (1308–42) of the House of Anjou. He also descended from the old Hungarian 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 would 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 favour, and he introduced new coins with a consistently 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 endeavoured 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.
- 1 Early years
- 2 Reign
- 3 The restoration of the royal power
- 4 New economic policy
- 5 Foreign policy
- 6 Family
- 7 References
- 8 Sources
- 9 External links
He was the only son of Charles Martel, Prince of Salerno, the firstborn son of Charles II of Naples, and his wife Klementia, a daughter of King Rudolph I of Germany. He was born in 1288, but the place of his birth is unknown. His paternal grandmother, Mary, was a daughter of Stephen V of Hungary. After the death of her brother, Ladislaus IV of Hungary, in 1290, she declared that the House of Árpád, the first royal family of Hungary, became extinct on the male line. She also announced her claim to the throne against Andrew III of Hungary, who had been crowned king on 23 July. She renounced her claim to Hungary to her firstborn son, Charles Martel, in January 1292. He was supported by the Babonići, the Frankopans, the Šubići and other Croatian and Slavonian noble families, but they frequently changed sides. Charles Martel could never assert his claim to Hungary.
Charles Martel died in autumn 1295 and the seven-year-old Charles inherited his father's claim to Hungary. In accordance with the principles of primogeniture, Charles would have been the heir apparent to his grandfather, Charles II of Naples, but both his grandfather and Pope Boniface VIII preferred his uncle, Robert. Charles II declared that Robert were to be considered as his firstborn son on 13 February 1296. Pope Boniface confirmed this decision on 27 February 1296, excluding Charles from inheriting the throne of the Kingdom of Naples. Remarks by Dante Alighieri, Giovanni Villani and other contemporaneous authors prove that "public opinion tended to favor" Charles's claim to Naples over his uncle's even thereafter, according to historian Samantha Kelly. For instance, Dante wrote of "the schemes and frauds that would attack" Charles Martel's seed.
Struggle for Hungary (1300–1308)
The Croatian lord, Paul Šubić, dispatched his brother, George, to Rome and Naples. He convinced Charles II of Naples to send his grandson to Hungary. Charles II borrowed 1,300 ounce gold from Florentine bankers to finance Charles's journey. The twelfe-year-old Charles disembarked in Split in August 1300. Paul Šubić escorted Charles to Zagreb where Ugrin Csák swore loyalty to the young pretender. Andrew III of Hungary, died on 14 January 1301. Charles hastened to Esztergom where the Archbishop-elect, Gregory Bicskei, put a provisional crown on his head before 13 May. The ceremony was not performed in accordance with tradition, and most Hungarians considered it unlawful, because a legitimate coronation should have been taken place in Székesfehérvár with the Holy Crown of Hungary, but Charles counted his regnal years from this event.
Actually, Hungary disintegrated into about a dozen independent provinces, which were ruled by powerful barons, after the death of Andrew III. For instance, Matthew Csák dominated the northwestern parts of Hungary (the eastern territories of present-day Slovakia), Amadeus Aba ruled over the northeastern lands, Ivan Kőszegi controlled Transdanubia, and Ladislaus Kán governed Transylvania. Most lords opposed Charles's rule and proposed the crown to the son of Wenceslaus II of Bohemia, Wenceslaus, who had been betrothed to Elisabeth, the only daughter of Andrew III. They preferred the young Wenceslaus to Charles because they feared that "the free men of the kingdom should lose their freedom by accepting a king appointed by the Church", according to the Illuminated Chronicle. Wenceslaus was crowned king with the Holy Crown of Hungary in Székesfehérvár, but the ceremony was performed by John Hont-Pázmány, Archbishop of Kalocsa, instead of the Archbishop of Esztergom. Charles withdrew from the central territories of the kingdom to the domains of Ugrin Csák. Pope Boniface sent his legate, Niccolo Boccasini, who convinced most Hungarian prelates to accept Charles's reign.
Charles laid siege to Buda, the capital of the kingdom, in September 1302, but Iván Kőszegi relieved the town. Charles's charters show that he primarily stayed in the southern parts of the kingdom in the next years, but he also visited Amadeus Aba in the fortress of Gönc. Pope Boniface declared Charles as the lawful king of Hungary on 31 May 1303. His opponent, Wenceslaus left Hungary in summer 1304, taking the Holy Crown of Hungary with him. Charles met his cousin, Rudolph III of Austria, in Pressburg (now Bratislava in Slovakia) on 24 August. They concluded an alliance against Wenceslaus and invaded Bohemia in autumn, but they achieved nothing.
Wenceslaus renounced his claim to Hungary in favor of Otto III, Duke of Bavaria on 9 October 1305. Otto was crowned with the Holy Crown in Székesfehérvár on 6 December by Benedict Rád, Bishop of Veszprém, and Anton, Bishop of Csanád, but he could not strengthen his position. Charles seized Esztergom and many fortresses in the northern parts of Hungary (now in Slovakia) in 1306. His partisans also occupied Buda in June 1307. In short, Ladislaus Kán seized and imprisoned Charles's opponent, Otto, in Transylvania. An assembly of Charles's partisans confirmed Charles's claim to the throne on 10 October, but three of the most powerful lords—Matthew Csák, Ladislaus Kán, and Ivan Kőszegi—were absent. Next year Ladislaus Kán released Otto of Bavaria. Although Otto never ceased styling himself King of Hungary, he never returned to the country.
Pope Clement V appointed a new papal legate, Gentile Partino da Montefiore, who arrived in summer 1308. He conducted negotiations with the Hungarian lord, persuading them one by one to accept Charles's rule. A new Diet held at the Dominican monastery of Pest, where Matthew Csák and Ladislaus Kán were also represented, unanimously proclaimed Charles Robert king on 27 November.
Wars against the oligarchs (1308–1323)
The synod of the Hungarian prelates, which was convoked by the papal legate, declared the monarch inviolable in December 1308. They also urged Ladislaus Kán to hand the Holy Crown over to Charles. Ladislaus Kán did not obey and the papal legate consencrated a new crown for Charles. Thomas II, Archbishop of Esztergom crowned Charles king with the new crown in the Church of Our Lady (now Matthias Church) in Buda on 15 or 16 June 1309. However, Charles's subjects considered his second coronation invalid. The papal legate excommunicated Ladislaus Kán who finally agreed to hand the Holy Crown over to Charles. Charles's third coronation was performed in full accordance with tradition on 27 August 1310: the Archbishop of Esztergom put the Holy Crown on his head in Székeshehérvár.
Charles's rule was only nominal in most parts of his kingdom. For instance, Matthew Csák laid siege Buda in June 1311 and Ladislaus Kán denied to assist the king. Charles sent an army against Matthew Csák in September, but it achieved nothing against the powerful lord. On the other hand, the death of Ugrin Csák in the same year enabled Charles to take possession of his domains between Požega in Slavonia and Temesvár (now Timișoara in Romania). The burghers of Kassa (now Košice in Slovakia) assassinated Amadeus Aba in September 1311. Charles's envoys arbitrated an agreement between his family and the town, which also prescribed that the Abas should withdraw from two counties and allow the noblemen inhabiting their domains to freely join the monarch. However, Amadeus Aba's sons soon entered into an alliance with Matthew Csák against the king. The united forces of the Abas and Matthew Csák besieged Kassa, but Charles routed them in the Battle of Rozgony (now Rozhanovce in Slovakia) on 15 June 1312. Almost half of the noblemen who had served the deceased Amadeus Aba fought on Charles's side in the battle. In the following months, Charles captured the Abas' many fortresses in Abaúj, Torna and Sáros counties, including Füzér, Regéc, and Munkács (now Mukacheve in Ukraine). He waged war against Matthew Csák, captured Nagyszombat (now Trnava in Slovakia) in 1313, and Visegrád in 1315, but could not win a decisive victory.
Charles transferred his residence from Buda to Temesvár, which was surrounded by marshes, in early 1315. Ladislaus Kán died in 1315, but his sons continued to fight against Charles. Charles launched a campaign against the Kőszegis in Transdanubia and Slavonia in the first half of 1316. Masses of local noblemen joined the royal troops, which contributed to the quick collapse of the Kőszegis' rule in southern parts of their domains. In the eastern parts of the kingdom, James Borsa made an alliance with Ladislaus Kán's sons and other lords and offered the crown to Andrew of Galicia. Charles' troops, which were under the command of a former supporter of the Borsas, Dózsa Debreceni, defeated the united troops of Borsa and his allies at Debrecen at the end of June. The royal troops captured the rebellious lords' many fortresses in Bihar, Szolnok, Borsod and Kolozs counties in the next two months. After the death of Stefan Dragutin, who had held the Szerémség, Macsó and other regions along the southern borders of Hungary, Charles confirmed the right of the deceased ruler's son, Vladislav, to succeed his father in 1316. He also declared Vladislav as the lawful ruler of Serbia against Stefan Uroš II Milutin. However, Stefan Uroš II captured his rival and invaded the Szerémség. Charles launched a counter-campaign across the river Száva and seized the fortress of Macsó.
The royal troops suppressed the revolt of the Abas and seized Ungvár and Nevicke Castle (present-day Uzhhorod and Nevytsky Castle in Ukraine) in May 1317. Charles invaded Matthew Csák's domains and captured Komárom (now Komárno in Slovakia) on 3 November. 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 raised 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 Belgrade and also the territory of the Banate of Macsó. Charles attacked the Serbian Empire in 1336, but was defeated by Dushan the Mighty. Charles was wounded by arrow. As result he lost Belgrade. At that time, Charles began to reorganise 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 11 October 1319. Charles, having widowed for the second time, married Elisabeth, a daughter of King Wladislaus I of Poland on 6 July 1320.
The death of Matthew III Csák on 21 March 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 II Šubić of Bribir, 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 Temesvár.
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.
New economic policy
Charles abolished the domestic private customs systems of the barons and oligarchs, which were created by them in the era of interregnum. The old original customs system was restored at the borders of the kingdom. The customs became a royal prerogative again.
Charles successfully curbed inflation, introducing new coins with a constantly high purity of gold. Florins minted, from 1325, in a newly established mint in Körmöcbánya 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.
The gold production of mines reached the figure of 3,000 pounds (1,400 kg) of gold annually. This was one third of the known worlds total production and five times as much as that of any other European state. Through various means between 30 and 40 percent of the revenue derived from gold production found its way into the royal coffers allowing Charles to reform the tax system and still maintain a sumptuous court.
Charles introduced new economic policy and tax systems, which were based on regales or royalties:
- Urbura (=bányabér) was the tax of mines (1/10 of gold and 1/8 of silver) — The landowners – to avoid taxation – kept their mines in secret in 1327 Charles Robert, in order to inspire the landowners open new mines, ordered to gave back the 1/3 of the tax to them.
- Minting money — Only the king was allowed to mint money, who wanted to make an acceptable currency, which wouldn’t devaluate (no income from exchange fee, but it supported external trading)
- Tricesima (Hungarian: harmincadvám) — It was a customs system. The tariff was 1/30 of all foreign commercial affairs.
- Gate tax — Was mainly collected from the peasantry after every gate, where a cart could go through.
- Census (tax of townships and royal landholdings)
also levied tax on the church (1/3 of the papal income)
Charles's foreign policy largely stemmed from dynastic alliances and he also endeavoured to strengthen his rule over the neighbouring territories that had accepted the supremacy of the Kings of Hungary in the course of the 13th century.
His most successful achievement was the mutual defense union with Poland and Bohemia against the Habsburgs, accomplished by the convention of Trencsén 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
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. During his retreat, in November 1330, the Hungarian army was trapped by Wallachians in a mountain pass, at Posada. In the Battle of Posada, the Hungarian army was massacred, King Charles himself barely escaped by exchanging clothes with one of his knights and a plethora of the noblemen who had accompanied him were slaughtered.
Because of its large financial power, the Kingdom of Hungary quickly rebuilt its army and found itself in conflict with the Holy Roman Empire in 1337. However, the Hungarian King maintained a de jure suzerainty over Wallachia until the diplomatic disputes had been solved.
Unknown to Charles, the Ottoman Turks had already secured Asia Minor under the sultans Osman I and Orhan I and planned to invade south-eastern Europe to consolidate their realm. The south-eastern European sovereignties were keener on securing their regimes than on co-ordinating their defences. Their diversity helped the Ottomans expand their dominion into the region.
Charles I died at Visegrád, Hungary in 1342. His funeral ceremony - at city of Székesfehérvár - was attended by his lifelong allies: King Casimir III of Poland and Charles IV (later Holy Roman Emperor).
|Ancestors of Charles I of Hungary|
The Anonymi descriptio Europae orientalis ("An Anonymous' Description of Eastern Europe") wrote, in the first half of 1308, that "the daughter of the strapping Duke of Ruthenia, Leo, has been recently married to Charles, King of Hungary". Charles also stated in a charter of 1326 that he once travelled to "Ruthenia" in order to bring back his first wife to Hungary. A charter issued on 23 June 1326 referred to Charles's wife, Queen Mary. According to historian Gyula Kristó, the three documents show that Charles married a daughter of Leo II of Galicia in late 1305 or early 1306. Historian Enikő Csukovits accepts Kristó's interpretation, but she writes that Mary of Galicia most probably died before the marriage. The Polish historian, Stanisław Sroka, rejects Kristó's interpretation, stating that Leo I—who was born in 1292, according to him—could hardly father Charles's first wife. In accordance with previous academic consensus, Sroka says that Charles's first wife was Mary of Bytom from the Silesian branch of the Piast dynasty.
Charles's "first consort, Maria ... was of the Polish nation" and she was "the daughter of Duke Casimir", according to the Illuminated Chronicle. According to Sroka, she married Charles in 1306. Kristó writes that the marriage of Charles and Mary of Bytom only took place most probably in the first half of 1311. According to the Illuminated Chronicle, she died on 15 December 1317, but a royal charter, which was issued on 12 July 1318, stated that her husband made a land grant with her consent. Charles's next—second or third—wife was Beatrice of Luxembourg, who was a daughter of Henry VII, Holy Roman Emperor, and the sister of John, King of Bohemia. Their marriage took place before the end of February 1319. She died in childbirth in early November in the same year. Charles's last wife, Elisabeth, daughter of Władysław I, King of Poland. She was born around 1306. Their marriage took place on 6 July 1320.
Most 14th-century Hungarian chronicle write that Charles and Elisabeth of Poland had five sons. Their first son, Charles, was born in 1321 and died in the same year, according to the Illuminated Chronicle. On the other hand, a charter of June 1323 states that the child died in this month. The second son of Charles and Elisabeth, Ladislaus, was born in 1324. The marriage of Ladislaus and Anne, a daughter of King John of Bohemia, was planned by their parents, but Ladislaus died in 1329. Charles's and Elisabeth of Poland's third son, Louis, who was born in 1326, survived his father and succeeded him as King of Hungary. His younger brothers, Andrew and Stephen, who were born in 1327 and 1332, respectively, also survived Charles.
Although no contemporaneous or nearly contemporaneous sources made mention of Charles's further children, Charles may have fathered two daughters, according to historians Zsuzsa Teke and Gyula Kristó. Zsuzsa Teke writes that they were born to Mary of Bytom, but the nearly contemporaneous Peter of Zittau wrote that she died childless. According to Gyula Kristó, a miniature in the Illuminated Chronicle, which depicts Elisabeth of Poland and five children, implies that she gave birth to Charles's two daughters, because Kristó identifies two of the three children standing on her right as daughters. The elder of Charles's two possible daughters, Catherine, who was born in early 1320s, was the wife of Henry II, Duke of Świdnica. Their only daughter, Anne, grew up in the Hungarian royal court after her parents' death, implying that Charles and Elisabeth of Poland were her grandparents. Historian Kazimierz Jasiński say that Elisabeth, the wife of Boleslaus II of Troppau, was also Charles's daughter. If she was actually Charles's daughter, she must have been born in about 1330, according to Kristó.
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- Sroka, Stanisław (1992). "A Hungarian-Galician Marriage at the Beginning of the Fourteenth Century?". Harvard Ukrainian Studies 16 (3-4): 261–268.
- Szovák, Kornél (1994). "Kálmán 3. [Coloman 3.]". In Kristó, Gyula; Engel, Pál; Makk, Ferenc. Korai magyar történeti lexikon (9-14. század) [Encyclopedia of the Early Hungarian History (9th-14th centuries)] (in Hungarian). Akadémiai Kiadó. pp. 316–317. ISBN 963-05-6722-9.
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- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Bain, Robert Nesbit (1911). "Charles I. (King of Hungary)". In Chisholm, Hugh. Encyclopædia Britannica 5 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 922, 923.
- His picture on the Hungarian 200 forint banknote
- (French) Armorial of the House Anjou-Sicily
- (French) House of Anjou-Sicily
- His profile in "Medieval Lands" by Charles Cawley
Charles I of Hungary
Cadet branch of the Capetian dynastyBorn: 1288 Died: 16 July 1342
|King of Croatia
|King of Hungary
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