Mary, Queen of Hungary

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Mary I of Hungary.jpg
Mary as depicted in the Chronica Hungarorum by Johannes de Thurocz
Queen of Hungary and Croatia
Reign 10 September 1382 – 31 December 1385
February 1386 - 17 May 1395
Coronation 17 September 1382
Spouse Sigismund of Luxembourg
House Capetian House of Anjou
Father Louis I of Hungary
Mother Elizabeth of Bosnia
Born 1371
Died 17 May 1395 (aged 24)
Buda, Hungary
Burial Várad (now Oradea)

Mary, also known as Maria (1371 – 17 May 1395), was Queen regnant of Hungary and Croatia between 1382 to 1385 and from 1386. She was the older of the two daughters of Louis the Great, King of Hungary and Poland, and his wife, Elizabeth of Bosnia, to survive childhood. Her marriage to Sigismund of Luxembourg, a member of the imperial Luxembourg dynasty, was decided already before her first birthday. A delegation of the Polish prelates and lords confirmed Mary's right to succeede her father in Poland in 1379.

Mary was crowned "king" of Hungary on 17 September 1382, seven days after her father's death. For the period of Mary's minority, her mother assumed regency.

Betrothed to Sigismund of Luxembourg in her father's lifetime, the queen married him in April 1385. She was deposed in December in favour of her agnate, King Charles II of Hungary, but his brief reign ended with his murder at Elizabeth's instigation in February 1386. In July, however, the newly restored queen and her mother were captured and imprisoned, and the latter was murdered in January next year. Released by her husband in June 1387, Mary reigned with him until her death.

Childhood (1371–1382)[edit]

Mary was born in the second half of 1371 to King Louis the Great, King of Hungary and Poland, and his second wife, Elizabeth of Bosnia.[1][2] Mary was her parents' second child; her older sister, Catherine, had been born in 1370.[2][3] Mary and Catherine gained another sibling, Hedwig, in 1374.[3][4]

Louis, was deteminded to bequeath his realms and his claims to the Kingdom of Naples and Provence to his daughters.[3] Consequently, securing marriage to one of Louis's daughters became the goal of European royal courts.[3] Before Mary's first birthday, her father made a promise to Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV that she would marry the emperor's second son, Sigismund of Luxembourg.[2][5] Louis confirmed his promise in a deed in June 1373.[2][6] Mary and Sigismund were closely related, because her grandmother, Elizabeth, was the sister of his great-grandfather, Casimir III of Poland.[2] The papal dispensation which was necessary for their marriage was issued by Pope Gregory XI on 6 December 1374, but even their sponsalia de futuro was postponed, as neither Mary nor Sigismund had attained the age of seven.[7] Louis's promise of the future marriage of Mary and Sigismund was also confirmed by the Hungarian and Polish lords on 14 April 1375.[2]

Mary's older sister, Catherine, who had been betrothed to Louis of France, died in late 1378.[3][8] At a meeting in Zólyom (now Zvolen in Slovakia), Louis repeated his former promise of Mary's and Sigismund's marriage to Sigismund's brother, Wenceslaus, King of the Romans, in 1379.[8][9] The two monarchs also agreed that they acknowledge Urban VI as the lawful pope against Clement VII.[8] The formal engagement of Mary and Sigismund took place in Nagyszombat (now Trnava in Slovakia) in the same year.[9][5] Sigismund, who had become Margrave of Brandenburg,[10] moved to Hungary.[11]

Louis summoned the Polish prelates and lords to Kassa (now Košice in Slovakia) in September 1379 to persuade them to acknowledge Mary's right to succeede him in Poland.[5][12] The contemporaneous Jan of Czarnków, who was biased against Louis, recorded that the Poles only yielded to the monarch's demand after he had prevented them from leaving the town by shuting its gates.[5][13] Early next year, at a meeting with Leopold III, Duke of Austria, Louis strongly hinted that he would bequeath Hungary to his younger daughter, Hedwig, who had been engaged to Leopold III's son, William.[14] Upon Louis's demand, a delegation of the Polish noblemen did homage to Sigismund and Mary on 25 July 1382.[15] According to historian Oscar Halecki, Louis wished to divide his kingdoms between his two surviving daughters;[16] on the other hand, Pál Engel and Claude Michaud write that the ailing king wanted to bequeath both Hungary and Poland on Mary and Sigismund.[5][17]


Accession and first years (1382–1384)[edit]

Elizabeth and Mary mourning at the tomb of Louis I, by Sándor Liezen-Mayer, 1864.

Louis the Great died on 10 September 1382.[18] Cardinal Demetrius, Archbishop of Esztergom, crowned Mary "king" with the Holy Crown of Hungary in Székesfehérvár on 17 September, the day after her father's burial.[1][19] Both her title of "king" and her rapid coronation in the absence of her fiancé, Sigismund, show that those who arranged the ceremony, primarily her mother, wanted to emphasize her role as monarch and to prolong or even hinder Sigismund's coronation.[20] The queen mother Elizabeth assumed regency.[19] Palatine Nicholas I Garay and Cardinal Demetrius became her main advisors.[19] Louis's most great officers preserved their offices, the queen mother only dismissed the master of the cupbearers, George Czudar, and his brother, Peter Czudar, who was the royal governor, or voivode of Ruthenia.[21] According to the 15th-century Jan Długosz, Peter Czudar and his brother surrendered the forts entrusted to them to the Lithuanians who had Lithuanians "[h]eavily bribed"[22] them.[23] Queen Elizabeth had Peter Czudar imprisoned before 1 November, but her charters only stated that he "had obviously been disloyal" and did not specify the reasons of his arrest.[24]

All royal charters issued during the first six months of Mary's reign emphasized that she had lawfully inherited her father's crown.[21] However, the majority of the Hungarian nobility was opposed to the idea of a female monarch and regarded King Charles III of Naples, who remained the last male offspring of the Capetian House of Anjou after Louis the Great's death, as the legitimate heir.[19][25] However, Charles could not openly laid claim to Hungary, because his rival for the Kingdom of Naples, Louis I, Duke of Anjou – who was Charles VI of France's uncle – had invaded Southern Italy in the previous year.[26][27] At a meeting in Radomsko on 25 November, the noblemen from Greater Poland offered to do homage to either Mary or Hedwig, on condition that the queen and her husband agree to live in Poland.[28] The assembly of the nobility of Lesser Poland passed a similar resolution in Wiślica on 12 December.[28] At the latter meeting, the envoys of Queen Elizabeth asked the Polish noblemen not to do homage to anyone else than one of her daughters.[28][29] Mary's fiancé, Sigismund of Luxemburg, who had stayed in Poland, soon returned to Hungary.[29] The Nałęcz family, Bodzanta, Archbishop of Gniezno, and their allies in Great Poland favored a native prince, Siemowit IV of Masovia.[28] To avoid a civil war,[19] Queen Elizabeth sent envoys to the Polish noblemen's next assembly which was held in Sieradz in late February 1383.[30] On her behalf, the envoys absolved the Poles from their former oath of loyalty to Mary on 28 March, announcing that the queen mother had decided to send her younger daughter, Hedwig, to Poland.[30][31]

John of Palisna, Prior of Vrana, rose up in open rebellion against the rule of Mary and her mother in the spring 1383.[31][32][33] The queens made Stephen Lackfi Ban of Croatia.[26] The royal army marched to Croatia and laid siege to Vrana, forcing John of Palisna to flee to Bosnia.[31][32] The defenders of Vrana surrendered to Mary, who had been present during the siege along with her mother, on 4 November.[31] To strengthen Mary's position against Charles of Naples, Queen Elizabeth sent her envoys to France and opened negotiations of the marriage of Mary to the younger brother of Charles VI of France, Louis, who had once been engaged to Mary's sister, Catherine.[34] Mary and the queen mother only left Croatia and Slavonia early next year.[35] Queen Elizabeth replaced Stephen Lackfi with Thomas Szentgyörgyi who used draconian measures to put an end to a conspiracy against the queens in Zadar in May 1384.[36]

To deal with the grievances of the noblemen, Mary decided to convoke a Diet, because no Diets had been held for more than three decades.[26] Upon the noblemen's demands, she confirmed her father's decrees of 1351 which summarized their privileges on 22 June 1384.[26] The negotiations of Mary's marriage in France caused a new rift within the Hungarian nobility, because most high officers of the realm, who had been appointed during Louis the Great's reign – the Lackfis, Nicholas Zambo and Nicholas Szécsi – continued to support Mary's fiancé, Sigismund of Luxemburg in accordance with the deceased king's will.[37] The queen mother replaced them with Nicholas Garay's supporters in August 1384.[38] The prelates were also opposed to the marriage of Mary with Louis of France, because the French supported Clement VII who was considered antipope by the Hungarian clergy.[39] Mary's sister, Hedwig, went to Poland where she was crowned on 16 October 1384.[18][40] Cardinal Demetrius, who had accompanied Hedwig to Poland, remained abstent from the queens' court after his return to Hungary, thus obstructing the functioning of royal government because he was the keeper of the royal seal.[41]

Neapolitan threat (1384–1386)[edit]

Elizabeth and Mary attending Charles' coronation, by József Molnár, 1880's.

Louis I of Anjou died on 10 September 1384, enabling his rival Charles III of Naples to stabilize his rule in Southern Italy during the next months.[42][38] The consolidation of Charles III's position in Naples also contributed to the formation of a party of noblemen who supported his claim to Hungary.[38][43] John Horvat, Ban of Macsó (now Mačva in Serbia) and his brother, Paul, Bishop of Zagreb, were the leading figures of their movement.[44] Being unable to persuade the queen mother to consent to his marriage to Mary, Sigismund of Luxemburg left Hungary in early 1385.[35][45]

The queens and their staunch supporters initiated negotiations with the representatives of the opposition, but no reconciliation was reached at their meeting in Požega in the spring of 1385.[46][47] After a French delegation came to Hungary in May 1385, Mary was engaged to Louis of France.[48] According to Jean Froissart, Louis of France signed his letters as "Louis of France, King of Hungary" thereafter.[48]

John and Paul Horvat and their allies formally offered the crown to Charles III of Naples and invited him to Hungary in August.[35][49] When Charles landed in Dalmatia in September 1385, Mary's kingdom was already at war with both Sigismund's brother Wenceslaus, King of Bohemia and Germany, and the queen mother's cousin, King Tvrtko I of Bosnia. Charles' arrival forced Mary's mother to abandon the planned French marriage and make peace with her enemies. Mary's marriage to Sigismund was celebrated in October, but it was too late. It was impossible to prevent Charles from summoning a diet attended by a huge number of barons, and he was able to secure their support. Sigismund fled to his brother's court in Prague and, following Mary's abdication, Charles was crowned on 31 December,[38] with Mary and her mother forced to attend his coronation.[50]

Restoration and capture[edit]

Nicholas I Garay defending his sovereign Mary and her mother Elizabeth from the Croatians. By Mihály Kovács

Charles' reign was not to be long; after his partisans left the court, Elizabeth invited him to visit Mary at one of her palaces, and had him stabbed in her apartments on 7 February 1386. He was taken to Visegrád, where died on 24 February.[50][51] Mary was restored to the throne, with Elizabeth ruling in her name. In April, Sigismund was brought to Hungary by his brother Wenceslaus and the queens were compelled to accept him as Mary's future co-ruler by a treaty signed in Győr. The Neapolitan party, however, declared Charles' underage son Ladislaus the rightful heir.[52]

War soon broke out in Slavonia, and Elizabeth, believing that Mary's mere presence would end the conflict,[51][copyright violation?] set out for Đakovo,[52] accompanied by Garay and a modest following.[51] However, the situation was seriously misestimated. On 25 July, the queens and their retinue were ambushed en route and attacked by John Horvat in Gorjani.[51][52] Their small entourage fought the attackers, but were all killed, while Mary and her mother were imprisoned in the Bishop of Zagreb's castle of Gomnec.[50] Elizabeth took all blame for the rebellion and begged the attackers to spare her daughter's life.[53]

For the first time in the century, the kingdom was left without a ruler and barons took over the government. They convoked a diet at Székesfehérvár and, reserving Mary's rights, offered a compromise with her captors. In her name, they promised a general pardon, but the Horvats refused to submit.[51] The queens were soon moved to Novigrad Castle.[52] Sigismund marched into Slavonia in January 1387, unsuccessfully attempting to release Mary and Elizabeth, who was strangled in front of her daughter[54] on the orders of their jailer, John of Palisna.[52] As the kingdom could no longer be without an effective ruler, Sigismund was crowned on 31 March.[54]

Reigning with Sigismund[edit]

Sigismund liberated Mary with the help of Venetian fleet on 4 June.[55][56] Her status was then somewhat uncertain; she was supposed to reign along with her husband, and did formally exercise royal prerogatives. Mary, who had her own great seal, granted estates until 1393, but merely confirmed Sigismund's acts. She refrained from actively taking part in government.[56] When King Sigismund took Dobor in Bosnia in July 1394, Queen Mary ordered the captured John Horvat to be tortured to death.[57]

Mary was heavily pregnant when she decided to venture out alone on a hunt in a Buda forest on 17 May 1395. Her horse tripped, threw her and landed on top of her. The trauma induced labor and she gave birth prematurely to a son. The injuries the queen sustained were fatal; being far from any kind of assistance, her son died as well. The two were found together in the woods. Mary's sister claimed the crown, but Sigismund retained it without much difficulty.[56][copyright violation?][58]



  1. ^ a b Csukovits 2012, p. 120.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Süttő 2002, p. 67.
  3. ^ a b c d e Engel 2001, p. 169.
  4. ^ Halecki 1991, p. 56.
  5. ^ a b c d e Engel 2001, p. 170.
  6. ^ Solymosi & Körmendi 1981, p. 222.
  7. ^ Halecki 1991, p. 55.
  8. ^ a b c Solymosi & Körmendi 1981, p. 224.
  9. ^ a b Süttő 2002, pp. 67-68.
  10. ^ Halecki 1991, p. 69.
  11. ^ Süttő 2002, p. 68.
  12. ^ Halecki 1991, p. 71.
  13. ^ Halecki 1991, pp. 57,71.
  14. ^ Halecki 1991, p. 73.
  15. ^ Halecki 1991, pp. 74-75.
  16. ^ Halecki 1991, p. 75.
  17. ^ Michaud 2000, p. 742.
  18. ^ a b Bartl et al. 2002, p. 40.
  19. ^ a b c d e Engel 2001, p. 195.
  20. ^ Halecki 1991, p. 98.
  21. ^ a b Fügedi 1986, p. 37.
  22. ^ The Annals of Jan Długosz (A.D. 1382), p. 339.
  23. ^ Fügedi 1986, p. 43.
  24. ^ Fügedi 1986, pp. 43-44.
  25. ^ Fügedi 1986, p. 32.
  26. ^ a b c d Engel 2001, p. 196.
  27. ^ Tuchman 1978, p. 399.
  28. ^ a b c d Halecki 1991, p. 99.
  29. ^ a b Fügedi 1986, p. 52.
  30. ^ a b Halecki 1991, p. 101.
  31. ^ a b c d Solymosi & Körmendi 1981, p. 226.
  32. ^ a b Fine 1994, p. 394.
  33. ^ Fügedi 1986, p. 63.
  34. ^ Engel 2001, pp. 195-196.
  35. ^ a b c Solymosi & Körmendi 1981, p. 227.
  36. ^ Fügedi 1986, p. 67.
  37. ^ Engel 2001, pp. 196-197.
  38. ^ a b c d Engel 2001, p. 197.
  39. ^ Süttő 2002, p. 69.
  40. ^ Halecki 1991, p. 109.
  41. ^ Süttő 2002, p. 70.
  42. ^ Tuchman 1978, p. 409.
  43. ^ Fine 1994, p. 395.
  44. ^ Fine 1994, pp. 395-395.
  45. ^ Halecki 1991, p. 125.
  46. ^ Süttő 2002, pp. 70-71.
  47. ^ Csukovits 2012, pp. 120-121.
  48. ^ a b Fügedi 1986, p. 62.
  49. ^ Magaš 2007, p. 63.
  50. ^ a b c Grierson, 236.
  51. ^ a b c d e Engel 2001, p. 198.
  52. ^ a b c d e Fine 1994, p. 397.
  53. ^ Bak 1997, p. 231.
  54. ^ a b Engel 2001, p. 199.
  55. ^ Halecki 1991, p. 164.
  56. ^ a b c Engel 2001, p. 201.
  57. ^ Engel 2001, p. 202.
  58. ^ Halecki 1991, p. 220.
  59. ^ Halecki 1991, pp. 366-367.


Primary sources[edit]

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Secondary sources[edit]

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Cadet branch of the Capetian dynasty
Born: 1371 Died: 17 May 1395
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Louis I
Queen of Hungary and Croatia
1382 – 1385
Succeeded by
Charles II
Preceded by
Charles II
Queen of Hungary and Croatia
1386 – 1395
with Sigismund
Succeeded by
as sole king