Magdolna Purgly

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Magdolna Purgly de Jószáshely (born 10 June 1881 in Sofronya, Kingdom of Hungary; died 8 January 1959 in Estoril, Portugal) was the wife of Admiral Miklós Horthy.

Early life[edit]

She was born to a rural landowning family in Transylvania in 1881. Her attitude, especially her behavior to the other sex, was very restrained. Purgly spent the first two decades of her life in accordance with accepted convention for a woman from the gentry.

Purgly and Horthy, who was 13 years her senior, met thanks to chance. Not only did the uniform made Miklós Horthy an arresting man - he traveled all around the world, and had an ability to tell stories about distant lands colorfully. The attraction was mutual, and Horthy felt he had found someone valuable.

They were married on 22 July 1901 at Arad. Miklós and Magdolna spent their honeymoon in Semmering, Austria. After this, Mrs. Horthy lived the life of an officer's wife, accompanying her husband on his official voyages.

Between 1901 and 1908, Horthy was stationed in Pula. Their children were born there: Magdolna (1902), Paula (1903), István (1904) and Miklós (1907). Afterwards, in 1908-1909, Horthy became the commandant of the Taurus, so they moved to the location of the cruiser: Istanbul. The family owned a villa on the banks of the Bosporus. Subsequently, they lived in Vienna for five years.

World War I[edit]

Mrs. Horthy and her children spent the war years in Pula. She met with her husband very rarely. By 1917-1918, it was clearly visible that a chaotic time was coming for the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. Magdolna gleaned information about Horthy's appointment to rear-admiral only from mutual acquaintances. When the Monarchy collapsed, Magdolna and the four children were forced to leave Pula since it had been taken over by Yugoslavia. With her family's lands in Arad having been lost to Romania, Magdolna and her children temporarily moved to Vienna. There Miklós Horthy rejoined his family, and they travelled to Horthy's hometown of Kenderes.

1919-1920[edit]

Horthy and his wife in the castle of Kenderes

Horthy prepared for a more peaceful life in the family's homestead. His wife approved of this, but fate crafted a different destiny.

Count Gyula Károlyi ordered Horthy to Szeged to take part in the elimination of the communist regime from Hungary. On 1 March 1920, Horthy was elected regent of Hungary by the National Court; thus Magdolna was styled "Her Serene Mistress" (Hungarian: Főméltóságú Asszony).

Under Horthy's Regency[edit]

The early years of the Regency[edit]

In the next few years, the foremost goal of her life was to provide a safe and calm home for Miklós Horthy. Mrs. Horthy appeared in public extremely rarely. In essence, the family had a modest life when taking into account Horthy's position; the highest point of it was the yearly garden-party. Their residence was in the Buda Castle when they were at Budapest and it took up 9 rooms (of 814 in total). The Horthy family's retreat was at Kenderes - it was larger than a villa, but smaller than a castle.

After 1935[edit]

After 1935, Mrs. Horthy appeared in public more frequently. Her goal was to ensure that Horthy would remain Regent. The greatest danger to his position came from extreme-right groups like the Arrow Cross Party led by Ferenc Szálasi. She worked to support the nation and its independence with her personal prestige. In this period, such actions carried anti-German (more correctly, anti-Fascist) implications. She did not directly participate in politics, but found expressed herself in a way that befit her position. She staunchly rejected every temptation to found a "Horthy Dynasty". And, in 1938, she started a charity with the benign purpose of trying to help out the poor of the recently regained Felvidék.

From 1940, she lived in perpetual anxiety and was not able shake off the thought that the Regency was only a moribund and transitory situation, and so she feared to think how it might end. In private company, she often said: "we came to power in a decent way, through the door, but I fear that we will only get out of here through the window". Her concern did not materialize word for word, but it is true that the remaining members of the Horthy family left the Castle of Buda on 17 October 1944 under dire circumstances.

Post-War life[edit]

After the end of World War II, they lived in Weilheim, Bavaria for four years. This period was unfavorable to Purgly's health. Due to her son's skill, the family managed to move to Estoril, Portugal. Mrs. Horthy died there in 1959, two years after her husband's death.

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