George Martinuzzi, O.S.P. (born Juraj Utješinović), also Georg Utiessenovicz-Martinuzzi or George Utissenich (1482 – December 16, 1551) was a Croatian nobleman, a monk of the Pauline order, and Hungarian statesman supporting King John Zápolya and later his son, King John Sigismund Zápolya. He was Bishop of Nagyvárad (Oradea), Archbishop of Esztergom, and a cardinal.
Martinuzzi was born in Kamičac, Dalmatia (southern Croatia). He is, as he usually signed himself Frater Georgius, known in Hungarian history as Fráter György or simply Tux Frate. He was the son of Grgur Utješinović (English: Gregory Utissenich), a Croatian nobleman, and was named Juraj Utješinović, but he used his mother's family name Martinuzzi, a Venetian patrician family. His sister Ana married Bartol Drašković and had three sons, among which was the famous Croatian Ban (viceroy) and Cardinal Juraj Drašković.
From his eighth to his twentieth year Martinuzzi was attached to the court of János Corvinus; subsequently, entering the service of the Zápolya family, he saw something of warfare under John Zápolya but, tiring of a military life, he entered The Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit and became a monk at the age of twenty-eight.
Martinuzzi's public career began in 1528, when his old patron, Zápolya, now King of Hungary, was driven out by his rival Ferdinand (afterwards Emperor Ferdinand I). Zápolya made Martinuzzi his envoy to the Hungarian magnates. It was due to his tact and ability that John regained his throne in 1529, and henceforth Fráter György became his treasurer and chief counsellor. In 1534 he became Bishop of Nagyvárad (Oradea). In 1538 he concluded with Ferdinand the Treaty of Nagyvárad, whereby the royal title and the greater part of Hungary were conceded to Zápolya, who named Ferdinand his successor. However, Zápolya married and had a son in 1540, just before he died.
John Zápolya named Martinuzzi as the guardian of his infant son John II Sigismund, who was elected King of Hungary by the Diet, the Fráter acting as regent. He frustrated all the attempts of the Dowager Queen, Isabella Jagiellon, to bring in Ferdinand, who considered that the election of John II broke the treaty, and invaded Hungary. In 1541, an Austrian army appeared beneath the walls of Buda.
Martinuzzi now took two drastic steps in response. First, he arrested the Queen. Second, he applied to the Ottoman Empire for help. John Zápolya had asked for Ottoman help against Ferdinand, and to get it had made Hungary an Ottoman vassal state. Thus Martinuzzi called on Ottoman Sultan Suleiman to defend his vassal against attack. A Turkish army drove off the Austrians.
On 28 August 1541, Martinuzzi, the Queen, with the infant king, went to the Turkish camp, where Martinuzzi did homage to the Sultan as Regent. But during his absence, the Ottoman Grand Vizier took Buda by subtlety. Only then did Martinuzzi recognize the necessity of an accord with both Austria and Turkey. He attained it by the Treaty of Gyalu (December 29, 1541), whereby western Hungary fell to Ferdinand, while Transylvania, as an independent principality under Turkish suzerainty, reverted to John Sigismund. It included, besides Transylvania proper, many Hungarian counties on both sides of the Theiss, and the important city of Kassa (Košice). It was Martinuzzi's policy to preserve Transylvania neutral and intact by cultivating amicable relations with Austria without offending the Ottomans. It was a difficult policy, but succeeded brilliantly for a time.
In 1545, encouraged by the growing unpopularity of Ferdinand, owing to his incapacity to defend Hungary against the Turks, Martinuzzi was tempted to unite Austrian Hungary to Transylvania, in order to procure the election of John Sigismund as the national king. But recognizing that this was impossible, he aimed at an alliance with Ferdinand on terms of relative equality, and to this system he adhered until his death.
Queen Isabella, who hated Martinuzzi and constantly opposed him, complained about him to the Sultan, who commanded that either the traitor himself or his head should be sent to Constantinople (1550). A coalition was then formed against him of the queen, the hospodars of Moldavia and Wallachia and the Turks; but Martinuzzi imprisoned the queen in Alba Iulia, drove the hospodars out of Transylvania, defeated the Turks at Deva, and finally compelled Isabella to accept a composition with Ferdinand very profitable to her family and to Transylvania, at the same time soothing the rage of the Sultan by flatteries and gifts. This compact, a masterpiece of statesmanship, was confirmed by the diet of Kolozsvár (Cluj Napoca) in August 1551. The Fráter retained the governorship of Transylvania, and was subsequently consecrated Archbishop of Esztergom. On 12 October 1551, Pope Julius III named him cardinal, also granting him permission to wear the habit of his order instead of the garments of a cardinal.
Thus Hungary was once more reunited, but the inability of Ferdinand to defend it against the Ottomans, as promised, forced Martinuzzi, for the common safety, to resume the payment of tribute to the Sultan in December 1551. However, the Ottomans no longer trusted a diplomat whose behavior they could not understand, while Ferdinand suspected him of an intention to secure Hungary for himself.
When the Ottomans (in 1551) took Csanád (Cenad) and other places, Martinuzzi and the imperial generals, Giambattista Castaldo and Sforza-Pallavicini, combined their forces against the common foe. But when Martinuzzi privately endeavored to mediate between the Ottomans and the Hungarians, Castaldo represented him to Ferdinand as a traitor, and was given permission to kill him if necessary. Martinuzzi's secretary, Marco Aurelio Ferrari, was hired. On 16 December 1551, at the castle of Alvinc (Vințu de Jos), Ferrari stabbed his master from behind while he was reading a letter. But the cardinal, though in his sixty-ninth year, fought for his life, and was only dispatched with the aid of Pallavicini and a band of bravos. Ferdinand took the responsibility of the murder on himself. The Pope excommunicated Ferdinand and his generals for this deed. Ferdinand sent to the Pope an accusation of treason against Martinuzzi in eighty-seven articles, and after long hesitation, and hearing 116 witnesses, the pope exonerated Ferdinand of blame and lifted the excommunication in 1555.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press
- T. M. Lindsay: History of the Reformation: In Germany, Taylor & Francis, 1963 
- George Martinuzzi entry at the Catholic Encyclopedia]
- A. Bechet, Histoire du ministére du cardinal Marlinusius (Paris, 1715); O. M. Utieienovi, Lebensgeschichte des Cardinals Georg t.Jliesenoviil (Vienna, 1881); Codex epistolaris Fratris Georgii 1535-1551, ed. A. Krolyi (Budapest, 1881). But the most vivid presentation of Fráter is to be found in M. Jókais' fine historical romance, Brother George (Hung.) (Budapest, 1893).
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to György Fráter.|