George Martinuzzi

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His Excellency
Juraj Utješinović
Archbishop of Esztergom
Fráter György MTA.jpg
Portrait of Martinuzzi by unknown artist
Archdiocese Archdiocese of Esztergom
Installed 1551
Term ended 1551
Ordination 1510
Consecration 1548[1]
by Franjo Jožefić (Bishop of Senj)[1]
Created Cardinal 12 October 1551
by Pope Julius III
Personal details
Born 1482
Kamičac, Republic of Venice
(today Skradin, Croatia)
Died 16 December 1551
Nagycsanád, Eastern Hungarian Kingdom (now Cenad, Romania)
Buried St. Michael's Cathedral, Alba Iulia
Nationality Venetian
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George Martinuzzi, O.S.P. (born Juraj Utješinović, also known as György Martinuzzi,[4][5] Brother György,[4][5] Georg Utiessenovicz-Martinuzzi[citation needed] or György Fráter[6] Hungarian: Fráter György; 1482 – December 16, 1551), was a Croatian nobleman, Pauline monk[7] and Hungarian statesman who supported King John Zápolya and his son, King John Sigismund Zápolya. He was Bishop of Nagyvárad (now Oradea), Archbishop of Esztergom and a cardinal.


Since he usually identified himself as "Frater Georgius", he is known in Hungarian history as "Fráter György" or "Tux Frate".


Early years[edit]

Martinuzzi was born in Kamičac, a castle in the vicinity of Šibenik in southern Croatia. Martinuzzi was the son of Grgur Utješinović (English: Gregory Utissenich), a Croatian nobleman. He was named Juraj Utješinović but used his mother's name, Martinuzzi (a Venetian patrician family). Martinuzzi's sister, Ana, married Bartol Drašković and had three sons (one of whom was Croatian Ban (viceroy) and cardinal Juraj Drašković).

Between the ages of seven and twenty, Martinuzzi was attached to the court of John Corvinus. Entering the service of the Zápolya family, he experienced military life under John Zápolya. After wearying of life as a soldier, he entered The Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit and became a monk at age 28.

Zápolya's Court[edit]

Martinuzzi's public career began in 1528, when his former patron Zápolya (then King of Hungary), driven out by his rival, Ferdinand (later Emperor Ferdinand I), made Martinuzzi his envoy to the Hungarian magnates. Thanks to Martinuzzi's tact and ability, John regained the throne in 1529, and "Fráter György" became his treasurer and chief counselor. In 1534 Martinuzzi became Bishop of Nagyvárad (now Oradea), and four years later he concluded the Treaty of Nagyvárad with Ferdinand. This conceded the royal title and most of Hungary to Zápolya, who named Ferdinand his successor. However, Zápolya married and had a son in 1540 (shortly before he died).

John Zápolya named Martinuzzi and Péter Petrovics guardians of his infant son John II Sigismund, who was elected King of Hungary by the Diet (with Martinuzzi as regent). Martinuzzi frustrated attempts by dowager queen Isabella Jagiellon to promote Ferdinand; the latter, contending that John II's election had violated the treaty, invaded Hungary, and an Austrian army reached the walls of Buda in 1541.

After Zapolya's death[edit]

Martinuzzi took two drastic steps in response: he arrested the queen and appealed to the Ottoman Empire for help. John Zápolya had requested Ottoman aid against Ferdinand; in return, Hungary was an Ottoman vassal state, and Martinuzzi asked Ottoman Sultan Suleiman to defend his vassal against attack. An Ottoman army repulsed the Austrians.

On 28 August 1541 Martinuzzi, the queen, and the infant king went to the Ottoman camp, where he paid homage to the sultan as regent. During their absence, the Ottoman Grand Vizier seized Buda by subterfuge, causing Martinuzzi to realize the need for accords with Austria and the Ottoman Empire. This led to the 29 December 1541 Treaty of Gyalu, in which Ferdinand received western Hungary; the Eastern Hungarian Kingdom (an independent principality under Ottoman suzerainty) was reverted to John Sigismund. This region included many Hungarian counties on both sides of the Tisza and the city of Kassa (now Košice). Martinuzzi's policy was to keep the state neutral (and intact) by cultivating amicable relations with Austria without offending the Ottomans. Although this was difficult, it succeeded for a time.

Encouraged by Ferdinand's growing unpopularity (due to his inability to defend Hungary against the Turks), in 1545 Martinuzzi, to ensure John Sigismund's election as king, wanted to unite Habsburg Kingdom of Hungary and Eastern Hungarian Kingdom. Realizing that this was impossible, he aimed at an alliance with Ferdinand on terms of relative equality (a policy he followed until his death).

In 1550 Queen Isabella (who opposed Martinuzzi) complained about him to the Sultan, who ordered that Martinuzzi or his head be sent to Constantinople. A coalition formed against Martinuzzi composed of the queen, the hospodars of Moldavia and Wallachia, and the Turks. The regent imprisoned the queen in Gyulafehérvár (now Alba Iulia), drove the hospodars out of Transylvania, and defeated the Turks at Déva (now Deva). He compelled Isabella to accept terms with Ferdinand advantageous to her family and Transylvania, and placated the sultan with flattery and gifts. This agreement was confirmed by the diet of Kolozsvár (now Cluj-Napoca) in August 1551; Martinuzzi remained governor of Transylvania, and was ordained Archbishop of Esztergom. On 12 October 1551 Pope Julius III named him a cardinal, with permission to wear the habit of his order instead of a cardinal's robes.

Although Hungary was again reunited, Ferdinand's inability to defend it against the Ottomans forced Martinuzzi 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, and Ferdinand suspected him of wanting to secure Hungary for himself.

Men with swords attacking a man in a castle
Martinuzzi's assassination, by agents of Giambattista Castaldo, on 17 December 1551


When the Ottomans seized Csanád (now Cenad) in 1551, Martinuzzi and imperial generals Giambattista Castaldo and Sforza-Pallavicini joined forces against a common foe. However, when Martinuzzi tried to mediate privately between the Ottomans and the Hungarians, Castaldo accused him of treason to Ferdinand and was given permission to kill him if needed. Martinuzzi's secretary, Marco Aurelio Ferrari, was the hired assassin. On 16 December 1551, at the Alvinc Castle, Ferrari stabbed Martinuzzi from behind while he was reading a letter. The cardinal (age 68) fought for his life, and was only killed with the aid of Pallavicini and a band of bravi. Ferdinand accepted responsibility for the murder, and the pope excommunicated him and his generals. After receiving an 87-article accusation of Martinuzzi for treason and hearing testimony from 116 witnesses, the pope exonerated Ferdinand and lifted the excommunications in 1555.[8]

Utješenović's grave in Alba Iulia Cathedral


A street in the old town Šibenik is named after Utješinović.


  1. ^ a b Györgi Cardinal Martinuzzi, O.S.P.P.E. †,
  2. ^ Fallenbüchl, p. 77
  3. ^ Barta, p. 253
  4. ^ a b Kontler 1999, p. 142.
  5. ^ a b Cartledge 2011, p. 84.
  6. ^ Molnár 2001, p. 91.
  7. ^ T. M. Lindsay: History of the Reformation: In Germany, Taylor & Francis, 1963 [1]
  8. ^ George Martinuzzi entry at the Catholic Encyclopedia


Further reading[edit]

  • A. Bechet, Histoire du ministére du cardinal Marlinusius (Paris, 1715);
  • Utješenović Ostrožinski, Ognjeslav (1881). Lebensgeschichte des Cardinals Georg Utiesenovic, Vienna
  • Codex epistolaris Fratris Georgii 1535-1551, ed. A. Krolyi (Budapest, 1881).
  • The most vivid presentation of Martinuzzi is to be found in M. Jókais' historical romance, Brother George (Hung.) (Budapest, 1893).

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Emeric Balassa of Gyarmat
Voivode of Transylvania
for Ferdinand I

Succeeded by
Andrew Báthory of Ecsed