John Zápolya

John Zápolya, or John Szapolyai (Croatian: Ivan Zapolja, Hungarian: Szapolyai János or Zápolya János, Romanian: Ioan Zápolya, Slovak: Ján Zápoľský, Serbian: Jovan Zapolja/Јован Запоља; 1490 or 1491 – 22 July 1540), was King of Hungary (as John I) from 1526 to 1540. His rule was disputed by Archduke Ferdinand I, who also claimed the title King of Hungary.[1] He was Voivode of Transylvania before his coronation, between 1510-1526.

John I
Szapolyai János rézmetszet
King of Hungary and Croatia
Contested by Ferdinand I.
Coronation11 November 1526
PredecessorLouis II
SuccessorFerdinand I
John II Sigismund Zápolya
Born1490 or 1491
Szepesváralja, Hungary
(now Spišské Podhradie, Slovakia)
Died22 July 1540 (aged 49–50)
Szászsebes, Hungary
(now Sebeş, Romania)
SpouseIsabella Jagiellon
IssueJohn II Sigismund Zápolya
HouseHouse of Zápolya
FatherStephen Zápolya
MotherHedwig of Cieszyn
John I's signature


John was the oldest son of Count Stephen Zápolya and his second wife, Hedwig of Cieszyn.[2][3] Stephen Zápolya was descended from a Croatian noble family from Slavonia.[2] Their family name was derived from the Croatian phrase "Za Polje" (it literally means "Behind the field").[4] Stephen became one of the wealthiest lords in the Kingdom of Hungary after inheriting the large domains of his brother, Emeric Zápolya, in 1487.[2][3] Stephen Zápolya's marriage with the Silesian duchess, Hedwig, who was related to Emperor Maximilian I, increased the prestige of the Zápolya family.[5]

Stephen Zápolya had no sons when Matthias Corvinus, King of Hungary, died on 6 April 1490, according to a contemporaneous report, but a charter issued in September 1491 already mentioned John, showing that John was born between the two dates.[6] He was born in Szepes Castle (now Spiš Castle in Slovakia), which was an important center of the Zápolyas' domains.[2][7] At the Diet of Hungary in 1497, Stephen Zápolya's opponents circulated rumours about his intention to have his son crowned king.[5] John and his younger brother, George, inherited their father's vast domains in 1499.[2][8] Their domains were primarily located in Upper Hungary (now Slovakia), where they held most landed estates in five counties.[8] John could write letters in Latin, showing that his mother provided excellent education to him.[6] Hedwig of Cieszyn wanted to persuade Vladislaus II, King of Hungary and Bohemia, to marry his only child, Anne, to John.[6][9] However king Vladislaus refused the idea of marriage between princess Anne and John Zápolya.

Early career

Party leader of the gentries

John began his public career in 1505 as a member of the Diet of Rákos. Due to John Zápolya's motion,[10] the new Diet at Rákos passed a bill which prohibited the election of a foreigner as king if Vladislaus's died without a male issue, on 13 October 1505.[9][11][12] The bill was aimed at creating a legal basis for John's ascension to the throne after the death of Vladislaus, but the king refused to ratify it,[8] and the Diet was closed by the king.[11] Vladislaus's brother, King Sigismund Jagiellon of Poland, came to Hungary to mediate between the royal family and the Zápolyas in late June.[11] Emperor Maximilian had already in September declared war on Hungary, because he wanted to protect his claim (acknowledged in the 1491 Peace of Pressburg) to succeed Vladislaus.[11] The teenager John Zápolya was made one of the commanders of the Hungarian army.[6] During the war, the envoys of Vladislaus and Maximilian signed a secret treaty on 30 March 1506 about the marriage of Vladislaus's daughter, Anne, and Maximilian's grandson, Ferdinand.[13][14] king Vladislaus's wife, Anne of Foix-Candale, gave birth to a son, Louis, on 1 July, which put an end to the war with Maximilian.[15]

John's serious conflicts with the royal court had meanwhile made him the leader of a "national party", consisting of the smaller untitled noblemen (the gentry) who were opposed to the pro-Habsburg orientation of the higher aristocracy and King Vladislaus.[16] Although the Diet initially refused to enact the right of the infant prince Louis to succeed king Vladislaus, but Louis was finally crowned on Vladislaus's demand on 4 June 1508.[8] According to the late 16th-century historian Miklós Istvánffy, John tried to persuade Vladislaus to give princess Anne in marriage to him when the king returned from Bohemia in early 1510, but the king refused him again.[17] John's sister Barbara Szapolyai married to Polish king Sigismund I the Old in 1512, which further increased the influence of the Szapolyai family in short term, because Barbara had died in Krakow in 1515.

Voivode of Transylvania

Szapolyai János kettőspecsétje
Royal stamp of Zápolya

Vladislaus II made John Zápolya Voivode of Transylvania and Count of the Székelys on 8 November 1510.[6] He moved to Transylvania and took up residence in Kolozsvár (now Cluj-Napoca in Romania) in March 1511.[18] The Ottomans began invading the southern frontier of the Kingdom of Hungary in April 1511.[19][20] John regularly held Diets for the representatives of the "Three Nations of Transylvania".[21] He also headed the judicial assemblies of the Székely people.[21]

Vladislaus's brother, Sigismund, who had been crowned King of Poland, married John's sister, Barbara Zápolya in early 1512, which increased John's prestige.[22] To show off his wealth, John went with Barbara to Poland accompanied by 800 horsemen who wore gilded cloths.[17] John made a raid in Ottoman Bulgaria in summer 1513.[23] After returning to Transylvania, he crushed a revolt in Hermanstadt (now Sibiu in Romania) and forced the townspeople to pay an extraordinary tax.[23]

Tamás Bakócz, Archbishop of Esztergom, declared a crusade against the Ottomans on 9 April 1514.[24] About 40,000 peasants joined the crusade and assembled near Pest, although their lords had tried to retain them before the harvest.[24][25] John launched a new campaign to Bulgaria in early May.[23] An army of armed serfs also left Pest to invade the Ottoman Empire.[24] During their march, they began plundering the nearby manors of noblemen.[24] Many villagers denied to pay taxes and duties.[24][26] The king and the archbishop ordered the peasants to disband on 22 May, but they refused to obey.[24] Their bands took control of the southern lowlands along the rivers Danube and Tisza and murdered many nobles.[24] The main army of the peasants, which was under the command of György Dózsa, laid siege to Temesvár (now Timișoara in Romania).[27] Stephen Báthory defended the town.[27] John Zápolya, who had returned from his Ottoman campaign, came to relieve Temesvár.[28] His army routed the peasants on 15 July.[28][29]

The leaders of the revolt were tortured to death with much cruelty.[29][30] Dózsa was put on a red-hot iron "throne" with a red-hot iron "crown" on his head and his compatriots were compelled to eat his flesh, before being executed.[30][29] In October, the Diet deprived the peasants of the right to free movement and obliged them to work on their lords' lands without remuneration one day in every week.[29] The Diet hailed John Zápolya as the "liberator of the realm" and rewarded him with a payment of 20 denars for each peasant household.[31] Mostly Zápolya's supporters were delegated to the royal council and his friend, Gregory Frankopan, Archbishop of Kalocsa, was made chancellor.[31] The previous chancellor, George Szatmári, Archbishop of Esztergom, remained hostile to Zápolya.[32]

Zápolya, Stephen Báthory, Emeric Török and Michael Paksy joined forces to laid siege to Žrnov, the Ottoman fortress near Nándorfehérvár (now Belgrade in Serbia) in April 1515.[33] However, Sinan, Bey of Smederovo, defeated their united troops.[33] The defeat weakened Zápolya's position.[32]

King of Hungary

In 1526, the Ottoman Empire crushed the Hungarian royal army in the Battle of Mohács and killed King Louis II. Zápolya was en route to the battlefield with his sizable army but did not participate in the battle for unknown reasons. The Ottomans sacked the royal capital of Buda and occupied Syrmia, then withdrew from Hungary. The last three months of the year were marked by a power vacuum; political authority was in a state of collapse, yet the victors chose not to impose their rule.

Two candidates stepped into the breach. One was Zápolya, voivode of Transylvania and Hungary's most prominent aristocrat as well as commander of an intact army. The other was Archduke Ferdinand of Austria, the late king's brother-in-law and brother of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, who claimed Hungary for the House of Habsburg.

Suleiman gives back the Holy Crown to Szapolyai
The Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent returns the Holy Crown to John Zápolya.

The majority of Hungary's untitled lesser nobility (the gentry) backed Zápolya, who for fifteen years had been playing a leading role in Hungarian political life. Part of the aristocracy acknowledged his leadership, and he enjoyed the enthusiastic support — not always reciprocated — of the lesser nobility. Most of his opponents succumbed at Mohács: the Hungarian branch of the Jagiellon dynasty became defunct, and its pro-Habsburg following was decimated. The higher nobility of Hungary (the magnates or barons) sided with Ferdinand, and gathered in Pozsony for Ferdinand's election. The German dynasty's main argument — one that many historians would judge to be decisive — was that the Habsburg dynasty could help Hungary fight against the Ottomans. But in 1526, the promise rang empty. Hungary had been fighting the Ottomans for over a century, during which time the Empire and the Habsburgs had offered much encouragement but no tangible help. The likelihood of assistance was further reduced by the conflict of Ferdinand's older brother, Emperor Charles V, and King Francis I of France that once again flared into open war in the summer of 1526. This circumstance led the Voivode to discount the threat lurking behind the Habsburgs' candidacy: that Zápolya's Hungary would have to contend not only with the Ottomans, but also with an attack from the west.

Thus Zápolya took no notice of his rival's protests, nor of those voiced by the few Hungarians who rallied to Ferdinand. On 10 November 1526, Zápolya had himself proclaimed king by the Diet at Székesfehérvár, and he was duly crowned the next day under the name King John I of Hungary.

Profiting from nine months of relative calm, King John I strove to restore state authority. He drew on his vast private wealth, the unconditional support of the lesser nobility, and the assistance of some aristocrats to impose his policies in domestic affairs. However, in the crucial sphere of foreign relations, success eluded him. He sought an entente with the Habsburgs, proposing to form an alliance against the Ottomans, but Archduke Ferdinand, who had himself elected king by a rump diet in Pressburg in December 1526, rejected all attempts at reconciliation. Hungary's envoys fanned out across Europe in quest of support. Only in France did they find a positive response, but even that was ineffective since Francis I was intent not on reconciling Hungary and the Habsburgs, but on drawing Hungary into a war against Charles V and his family.

Europe's political balance underwent a major shift in the summer of 1527, when, in a somewhat unplanned operation, mercenary forces of the emperor occupied Rome and drove Pope Clement VII, one of France's principal allies, to capitulate. This development freed Ferdinand — who also acquired the Bohemian throne in late 1526 – from the burden of assisting his brother. By then, Ferdinand had developed a Hungarian policy that was fully in keeping with the interests of his realms. He judged that if Hungary, unable to resist the Ottoman Empire, took action independently of Austria and Bohemia, it might well enter into an alliance with the Ottomans against its western neighbors. It was therefore in the interest of Austria and Bohemia that the Habsburgs gain control of Hungary, by force if necessary.

In July 1527, Ferdinand sent an army of German mercenaries into Hungary. The moment was well chosen, for Zápolya's forces were tied up in the southern counties of Hungary, where Slavonic peasants, incited by Ferdinand, had rebelled; the revolt was led by the 'Black Man', Jovan Nenad. In one sweep, the invaders captured Buda. Zápolya hurriedly redeployed his army, but on 27 September in the Battle of Tarcal (near Tokaj), he suffered a bloody defeat.

In 1528 Zápolya fled Hungary for Poland, where he stayed with Prince Jan Amor Tarnowski.[34]

In 1529 Zápolya approached the Ottomans, and agreed to make Hungary a vassal state in return for recognition and support. Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent accepted, and sent Ottoman armies to invade Austria (which included the First siege of Vienna), a war which lasted till 1533. This allowed Zápolya to regain his position in Hungary in 1529, by the efforts of Frater George Martinuzzi, despite the association with the Ottomans which tainted him at the time. Martinuzzi became royal treasurer and Zápolya's most trusted minister.

In 1533, the Ottomans made peace and ceded western Hungary to Ferdinand. Ferdinand now began to press Zápolya for control of the rest. In 1538, by the Treaty of Nagyvárad, Zápolya designated Ferdinand to be his successor after his death, as he was childless.

However, in 1539, he married Princess Isabella Jagiełło of Poland, and in 1540 they had a son, John Sigismund. Zápolya died nine days later in Szászsebes (Sebeş).

See also


  1. ^ John (king of Hungary) Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  2. ^ a b c d e Oborni 2012, p. 152.
  3. ^ a b Markó 2006, p. 243.
  4. ^ Kubinyi 2008, page: 22
  5. ^ a b Neumann 2014, p. 94.
  6. ^ a b c d e Neumann 2014, p. 95.
  7. ^ Markó 2006, p. 38.
  8. ^ a b c d Engel 2001, p. 361.
  9. ^ a b Engel, Kristó & Kubinyi 1998, p. 351.
  10. ^ John (king of Hungary) Britannica Online Encyclopedia
  11. ^ a b c d Szakály 1981, p. 328.
  12. ^ Cartledge 2011, p. 69.
  13. ^ Szakály 1981, p. 329.
  14. ^ Engel 2001, p. 360.
  15. ^ Engel, Kristó & Kubinyi 1998, p. 337, 352.
  16. ^ Kontler 1999, pp. 132-133.
  17. ^ a b Nagy 2008, p. 271.
  18. ^ Neumann 2014, pp. 95-96.
  19. ^ Engel, Kristó & Kubinyi 1998, p. 340.
  20. ^ Szakály 1981, p. 333.
  21. ^ a b Neumann 2014, p. 98.
  22. ^ Neumann 2014, p. 96.
  23. ^ a b c Szakály 1981, p. 334.
  24. ^ a b c d e f g Engel 2001, p. 362.
  25. ^ Kontler 1999, p. 133.
  26. ^ Engel, Kristó & Kubinyi 1998, p. 361.
  27. ^ a b Engel, Kristó & Kubinyi 1998, p. 363.
  28. ^ a b Engel 2001, pp. 363-364.
  29. ^ a b c d Cartledge 2011, p. 72.
  30. ^ a b Kontler 1999, p. 134.
  31. ^ a b Engel 2001, p. 364.
  32. ^ a b Engel 2001, p. 365.
  33. ^ a b Szakály 1981, p. 335.
  34. ^ Zdzisław Spieralski, Jan Tarnowski 1488-1561, Warszawa 1977, p. 124-125.


  • Barta, Gábor (1994). "The Emergence of the Principality and its First Crises (1526–1606)". In Köpeczi, Béla; Barta, Gábor; Bóna, István; Makkai, László; Szász, Zoltán; Borus, Judit (eds.). History of Transylvania. Akadémiai Kiadó. pp. 247–300. ISBN 963-05-6703-2.
  • Barta, Gábor; Granasztói, György (1981). "A három részre szakadt ország és a török kiűzése (1526-1605)". In Benda, Kálmán; Péter, Katalin (eds.). Magyarország történeti kronológiája, II: 1526-1848 [Historical Chronology of Hungary, Volume I: 1526-1848] (in Hungarian). Akadémiai Kiadó. pp. 361–430. ISBN 963-05-2662-X.
  • Cartledge, Bryan (2011). The Will to Survive: A History of Hungary. C. Hurst & Co. ISBN 978-1-84904-112-6.
  • Engel, Pál; Kristó, Gyula; Kubinyi, András (1998). Magyarország története, 1301-1526 (in Hungarian). Osiris. ISBN 963-379-171-5.
  • Engel, Pál (2001). The Realm of St Stephen: A History of Medieval Hungary, 895–1526. I.B. Tauris Publishers. ISBN 1-86064-061-3.
  • Kontler, László (1999). Millennium in Central Europe: A History of Hungary. Atlantisz Publishing House. ISBN 963-9165-37-9.
  • Markó, László (2006). A magyar állam főméltóságai Szent Istvántól napjainkig: Életrajzi Lexikon [Great Officers of State in Hungary from King Saint Stephen to Our Days: A Biographical Encyclopedia] (in Hungarian). Helikon Kiadó. ISBN 963-547-085-1.
  • Nagy, Gábor (2008). "Szapolyai István és János alakja Isthvánffi Miklós Historiaejában [The personalities of Stephen and John Zápolya in Miklós Isthvánffi's Historiae]" (PDF). Publicationes Universitatis Miskolcinensis, Sectio Philosophica (in Hungarian). Miskolci Egyetem. 13 (3): 267–294. Retrieved 27 February 2016.
  • Neumann, Tibor (November 2014). "Dózsa legyőzője. Szapolyai János erdélyi vajdasága (1510-1526). [The man who defeated Dózsa: voivodeship of John Zápolya in Transylvania (1510-1526)]". Székelyföld (in Hungarian). Hargita Kiadó. 18 (11): 93–107. Retrieved 6 February 2016.
  • Oborni, Teréz (2012). "Szapolyai (I) János". In Gujdár, Noémi; Szatmáry, Nóra (eds.). Magyar királyok nagykönyve: Uralkodóink, kormányzóink és az erdélyi fejedelmek életének és tetteinek képes története [Encyclopedia of the Kings of Hungary: An Illustrated History of the Life and Deeds of Our Monarchs, Regents and the Princes of Transylvania] (in Hungarian). Reader's Digest. pp. 152–155. ISBN 978-963-289-214-6.
  • Szakály, Ferenc (1981). "A középkori magyar királyság virágzása és bukása, 1301–1526: 1490-1525 [Heyday and fall of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary, 1301–1526: 1490-1526]". In Solymosi, László (ed.). Magyarország történeti kronológiája, I: a kezdetektől 1526-ig [Historical Chronology of Hungary, Volume I: From the Beginning to 1526] (in Hungarian). Akadémiai Kiadó. pp. 318–350. ISBN 963-05-2661-1.
János I Szapolyai
Born: 1487 2 February Died: 1540 22 July
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Péter Szentgyörgyi
Voivode of Transylvania
Succeeded by
Péter Perényi
Preceded by
Louis II
King of Hungary
contested by Ferdinand I

Succeeded by
John II Sigismund
Battle of Szina

The Battle of Szina or Seňa took place near Szina in the Kingdom of Hungary (present-day Seňa, in Slovakia). The battle was fought on 20 March 1528 between two rival kings of Hungary John Zápolya and Ferdinand I. The latter's forces under command of Bálint Török and Johann Katzianer, a Styrian mercenary commander defeated John's army; the battle was the second military defeat for John Zápolya during the civil war.

Battle of Tarcal

The Battle of Tarcal or Battle of Tokaj (Hungarian: Tarcali csata) was a battle fought on 27 September 1527 near Tokaj between the Habsburg-German-Hungarian forces of Archduke Ferdinand of Austria and an opposing Hungarian army under the command of John Zápolya. Ferdinand completely defeated Zápolya.

Christoph Frankopan

Christoph Frankopan (Croatian: Krsto Frankopan Brinjski, Hungarian: Frangepán Kristóf; 1482 – 22 September 1527) was a Croatian count from the noble House of Frankopan. As a supporter of King John I of Hungary during the succession crisis between John Zápolya and Ferdinand Habsburg, he was named the ban of Croatia in 1526, and died in battle with the supporters of Ferdinand.

Eastern Hungarian Kingdom

The Eastern Hungarian Kingdom (Hungarian: Keleti Magyar Királyság) is a modern term used by historians to designate the realm of John Zápolya and his son John Sigismund Zápolya, who contested the claims of the House of Habsburg to rule the Kingdom of Hungary from 1526 to 1570. The Zápolyas ruled over an eastern part of Hungary, while the Habsburg kings (Ferdinand and Maximilian) ruled the west.

The Habsburgs tried several times to unite all Hungary under their rule, but the Ottoman Empire prevented this by supporting the Eastern Hungarian Kingdom.The exact extent of the Zápolya realm was never settled, because the Habsburgs and the Zápolyas both claimed the whole kingdom. A temporary territorial division was made in the Treaty of Nagyvárad in 1538. The Eastern Hungarian Kingdom is the predecessor of the Principality of Transylvania (1570–1711), established by the Treaty of Speyer (1570).

Franco-Hungarian alliance in 1528

A Franco-Hungarian alliance was formed in October 1528 between Francis I of France and John Zápolya, king of Hungary.

George Martinuzzi

George Martinuzzi, O.S.P. (born Juraj Utješinović, also known as György Martinuzzi, Brother György, Georg Utiessenovicz-Martinuzzi or György Fráter Hungarian: Fráter György; 1482 – 16 December 1551), was a Croatian nobleman, Pauline monk 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.

Hungarian campaign of 1527–1528

The Hungarian campaign of 1527–1528 was launched by Ferdinand I, Archduke of Austria and King of Hungary and Bohemia against the Ottoman Turks. Following the Battle of Mohács, the Ottomans were forced to withdraw as events elsewhere in their now massive Empire required the Sultan's attention. Seizing upon their absence, Ferdinand I attempted to enforce his claim as King of Hungary. In 1527 he drove back the Ottoman vassal John Zápolya and captured Buda, Győr, Komárom, Esztergom, and Székesfehérvár by 1528. Meanwhile, the Ottoman Sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, took no action at this stage despite the pleas of his vassal.

Isabella Jagiellon

Isabella Jagiellon (Hungarian: Izabella királyné; Polish: Izabela Jagiellonka; 18 January 1519 – 15 September 1559) was the oldest child of Polish King Sigismund I the Old, the Grand Duke of Lithuania and his Italian wife Bona Sforza. In 1539, she married John Zápolya, Voivode of Transylvania and King of Hungary, becoming Queen consort of Hungary. At the time Hungary was contested between Archduke Ferdinand of Austria who wanted to add it to the Habsburg domains (see Royal Hungary), local nobles who wanted to keep Hungary independent (see Eastern Hungarian Kingdom), and Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent who saw it as a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire (see also Little War in Hungary). While Isabella's marriage lasted only a year and a half, it did produce a male heir – John Sigismund Zápolya born just two weeks before his father's death in July 1540. She spent the rest of her life embroiled in succession disputes on behalf of her son. Her husband's death sparked renewed hostilities but Sultan Suleiman established her as a regent of the eastern regions of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary on behalf of her infant son. The region developed as a semi-independent buffer state noted for its freedom of religion. Ferdinand, however, never renounced his claims to reunite Hungary and conspired with Bishop George Martinuzzi who forced Isabella to abdicate in 1551. She returned to her native Poland to live with her family. Sultan Suleiman retaliated and threatened to invade Hungary in 1555–56 forcing nobles to invite Isabella back to Transylvania. She returned in October 1556 and ruled as her son's regent until her death in September 1559.

István Dobó

Baron István Dobó de Ruszka (c. 1502 - Szerednye (today, Середнє (Szerednye / Serednie, Ukraine), mid-June 1572) was a Hungarian soldier, best known as the successful defender of Eger against the Ottomans in 1552. Dobó was a member of the Hungarian land-owning nobility, with holdings in northern Hungary. In the dynastic succession struggles after the Battle of Mohács in 1526, Dobó was consistently on the side of the Habsburg King Ferdinand I rather than that of John Zápolya.

Johann Katzianer

Johann Katzianer (Slovene: Ivan Kacijanar), or Hans Katzianer, Freiherr zu Katzenstein und Fledingen (1491, Begunje (German: Vigaun) – 27 October 1539, Hrvatska Kostajnica) was a Carniolan aristocrat and an Imperial Army commander.

He is first mentioned in 1527 when Ferdinand I, Holy Roman Emperor gathered an army to support his claims on the throne of Hungary, which had become vacant after King Louis II of Hungary was killed in the Battle of Mohács against the Turks.

Katzianer took part in Ferdinand's Hungarian campaign of 1527–1528 against the voivode of Transylvania John Zápolya, who had also been proclaimed King, supported by a large faction of the nobility in the Hungarian kingdom.

Katzianer distinguished himself in the Battle of Tarcal in September 1527 and especially in the Battle of Szina in March 1528, but alienated himself from the population by the violence and misbehaviour of his troops.

In 1529 he participated in the defense of Vienna against Suleiman the Great. At the head of the light cavalry he harassed the retreating Turks and liberated many Christian prisoners.After the death of Nicholas, Count of Salm, he was named commander in chief (Obristfeldhauptmann) of the troops in Hungary, where he held off under difficult circumstances new attacks from John Zápolya and Suleiman the Great. He gained a great victory in the Battle of Leobersdorf where he destroyed a Turkish army led by Kasim Bey.

In 1537 he was commander of an army of 24.000 men to besiege Osijek.

The campaign was a complete disaster and Katzianer was blamed for fleeing and abandoning his army to be annihilated in the Battle of Đakovo. He was arrested and sent to Vienna to be tried, but escaped before the verdict on 31 January 1538 to Zrinski Castle in Croatia.

Here he contacted enemies of the Habsburgs to plot against Ferdinand, but the young Count Nikola Šubić Zrinski had him murdered, and was stabbed during dinner.

John Sigismund Zápolya

John Sigismund Zápolya or Szapolyai (Hungarian: Szapolyai János Zsigmond; 7 July 1540 – 14 March 1571) was King of Hungary as John II from 1540 to 1551 and from 1556 to 1570, and the first Prince of Transylvania, from 1570 to his death. He was the only son of John I, King of Hungary, and Isabella of Poland. John I ruled parts of the Kingdom of Hungary, with the support of the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman; the remaining areas were ruled by Ferdinand I, who also claimed Hungary. The two kings concluded a peace treaty in 1538 acknowledging Ferdinand's right to reunite Hungary after John I's death, but shortly after John Sigismund's birth, and on his deathbed, John I bequeathed his realm to his son. The late king's staunchest supporters elected the infant John Sigismund king, but he was not crowned with the Holy Crown of Hungary.

Suleiman invaded Hungary under the pretext of protecting John Sigismund against Ferdinand. The capital of Hungary, Buda, fell to the Ottomans without opposition in 1541, but Suleiman allowed the dowager queen, Isabella, to retain the territory east of the river Tisza on John Sigismund's behalf. Isabella and John Sigismund moved to Lippa (now Lipova in Romania). Before long, they took up residence in Gyulafehérvár in Transylvania (now Alba Iulia in Romania). John Sigismund's realm was administered by his father's treasurer, George Martinuzzi, who wanted to reunite Hungary under the rule of Ferdinand. Martinuzzi forced Isabella to renounce her son's realm in exchange for two Silesian duchies and 140,000 florins in 1551. John Sigismund and his mother settled in Poland, but she continued to negotiate for John Sigismund's restoration with Ferdinand's enemies.

Ferdinand could not protect eastern Hungary against the Ottomans. Urged by Suleiman, the Transylvanian Diet in 1556 persuaded John Sigismund and his mother to return to Transylvania. She ruled her son's realm until her death in 1559. A wealthy lord, Melchior Balassa, rebelled against John Sigismund in late 1561, which contributed to the loss to Ferdinand of most counties outside Transylvania. The Székely people, whose liberties had been restricted in the 1550s, also rose up against John Sigismund, but he crushed the rebellion. During the ensuing war against the Habsburgs, the Ottomans supported John Sigismund, and he paid homage to Suleiman in Zemun in 1566. The 1568 Treaty of Adrianople concluded the war, confirming John Sigismund in the eastern territories of the medieval Kingdom of Hungary (Transylvania and "Partium").

John Sigismund initiated a series of theological debates among the representatives of the concurring theological schools of the Reformation in the 1560s. He converted from Catholicism to Lutheranism in 1562 and from Lutheranism to Calvinism in 1564. Around five years later, accepting the Anti-Trinitarian views of his physician, Giorgio Biandrata and court preacher Ferenc Dávid, he became the only Unitarian monarch in history. In 1568, the Diet passed the Edict of Torda (now Turda in Romania), which emphasized that "faith is a gift of God" and prohibited the persecution of people for religious reasons. The edict expanded the limits of freedom of religion beyond the standards of late 16th-century Europe. John Sigismund abandoned the title "elected king of Hungary" in the Treaty of Speyer in 1570. Thereafter, he styled himself "Prince of Transylvania and Lord of Parts of the Kingdom of Hungary". He died childless. The Catholic Stephen Báthory succeeded him.

Radič Božić

Radič Božić (Serbian: Радич Божић ; fl. 1502 - September 1528) was the Despot of Serbia in 1527 until his death in September 1528. He ruled a territory under the Hungarian crown, and was the voivode of a large army that fought the Ottoman Empire in several battles, most notably the Battle of Mohács.

Siege of Güns

The Siege of Kőszeg or Siege of Güns (Turkish: Güns Kuşatması) was a siege of Kőszeg (German: Güns) in the Kingdom of Hungary within the Habsburg Empire, that took place in 1532. In the siege, the defending forces of the Austrian Habsburg Monarchy under the leadership of Croatian Captain Nikola Jurišić (Hungarian: Miklós Jurisics), defended the small border fort of Kőszeg with only 700–800 Croatian soldiers, with no cannons and few guns. The defenders prevented the advance of the Ottoman army of 120,000–200,000 toward Vienna, under the leadership of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (Ottoman Turkish: سليمان‎ Süleymān) and Pargalı Ibrahim Pasha.The exact outcome is unknown, since there are two versions which differ, depending on the source. In the first version, Nikola Jurišić rejected the offer to surrender on favourable terms; in the second version, the city was offered terms for a nominal surrender. Suleiman, having been delayed nearly four weeks, withdrew at the arrival of the August rains, and did not continue towards Vienna as he had intended, but turned homeward.Suleiman secured his possession in Hungary by conquering several other forts, but after the Ottoman withdrawal, Habsburg Emperor Ferdinand I reoccupied some of the devastated territory. Following this, Suleiman and Ferdinand concluded a 1533 treaty in Constantinople that confirmed the right of John Zápolya as a king of all Hungary, but recognised Ferdinand's possession of some of the reoccupied territory.

Siege of Szigetvár

The Siege of Szigetvár or Battle of Szigeth (pronunciation: [ˈsiɡɛtvaːr] Hungarian: Szigetvár ostroma, Croatian: Bitka kod Sigeta; Sigetska bitka, Turkish: Zigetvar Kuşatması) was a siege of the fortress of Szigetvár, Kingdom of Hungary, that blocked Suleiman's line of advance towards Vienna in 1566 AD. The battle was fought between the defending forces of the Habsburg Monarchy under the leadership of Nikola Šubić Zrinski (Hungarian: Zrínyi Miklós), former Ban of Croatia, and the invading Ottoman army under the nominal command of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent (Ottoman Turkish: سليمان‎ Süleymān).After the Battle of Mohács in 1526, which resulted in the end of the independent Kingdom of Hungary, Ferdinand I was elected King by the nobles of both Hungary and Croatia. This was followed by a series of conflicts with the Habsburgs and their allies, fighting against the Ottoman Empire. In the Little War in Hungary both sides exhausted themselves after sustaining heavy casualties. The Ottoman campaign in Hungary ceased until the offensive against Szigetvár.In January 1566 Suleiman went to war for the last time. The siege of Szigetvár was fought from 5 August to 8 September 1566 and, though it resulted in an Ottoman victory, there were heavy losses on both sides. Both commanders died during the battle—Zrinski in the final charge and Suleiman in his tent from natural causes. More than 20,000 Turks had fallen during the attacks and almost all of Zrinski's 2,300 man garrison was killed, with most of the final 600 men killed on the last day. Although the battle was an Ottoman victory, it stopped the Ottoman push to Vienna that year. Vienna was not threatened again until the Battle of Vienna in 1683.The importance of the battle was considered so great that the French clergyman and statesman Cardinal Richelieu was reported to have described it as "the battle that saved civilization". The battle is still famous in Croatia and Hungary and inspired both the Hungarian epic poem The Siege of Sziget and the Croatian opera Nikola Šubić Zrinski.

Siege of Vienna

The Siege of Vienna in 1529 was the first attempt by the Ottoman Empire, led by Suleiman the Magnificent, to capture the city of Vienna, Austria. The siege came in the aftermath of the 1526 Battle of Mohács, which had resulted in the death of the King of Hungary and the descent of the kingdom into civil war, with rival factions supporting the Habsburg Archduke Ferdinand I of Austria and others supporting the Ottoman backed John Zápolya. The Ottoman attack on Vienna was part of their intervention into the Hungarian conflict, intended in the short term to secure Zápolya's position. Historians disagree in their interpretation of Ottoman long-term goals and regarding what motivations lay behind the choice of Vienna in particular as the target of the campaign. The failure of the siege marked the beginning of 150 years of bitter military tension and reciprocal attacks, culminating in a second siege of Vienna in 1683.

There is speculation by some historians that Suleiman's main objective in 1529 was actually to assert Ottoman control over the whole of Hungary, the western part of which (known as Royal Hungary) was under Habsburg control. The decision to attack Vienna after such a long interval in Suleiman's European campaign is viewed as an opportunistic manoeuvre after his decisive victory in Hungary. Other scholars theorise that the suppression of Hungary simply marked the prologue to a later, premeditated invasion of Europe.

Stefan Berislavić

Stefan Berislavić (Hungarian: Beriszló István, d. 1535) was a Hungarian magnate who served as the Despot of Rascia between 1520 and 1526. He was a member of the Berislavići Grabarski.A member of the Berislavići Grabarski from the Požega County of Slavonia, Stefan was the son of Ivaniš Berislavić (d. 1514), who served the Kingdom of Hungary as Despot of Serbia (r. 1504–14), and Ban of Jajce (r. 1511–13). His mother was Jelena Jakšić, of the Serbian Jakšić noble family, who had previously been married to the last Serbian Despot of the Branković dynasty, Jovan Branković (r. 1496–1502), who died in 1502; as the couple had no issue, the Serbian Despot title was inherited by Jelena, who remarried in 1504 to Ivaniš, who in turn received the title, holding it until his death in 1514.

Stefan was less than ten years old when his father died, thus, the Despot title was recognized to him only in 1520. After the defeat of the Hungarians at Mohács (1526), the Hungarian nobility was divided into two sides; one led by King Ferdinand Habsburg, on whose side Berislavić stood, and one led by John Zápolya, the Duke of Transylvania. Stefan died in 1535. After the fall of Hungary, there were two more titular Despots, Radič Božić (1527–28), received by Zápolya, and Pavle Bakić (1537), received by Ferdinand.

Stephen VIII Báthory

Stephen VIII Báthory (Hungarian: Báthory István, pronounced [ˈbaːtori ˈiʃtvaːn]) (1477–1534) was a Hungarian noble.

He was a son of Nicholas Báthory (1462–1500) of the Somlyó branch of the Báthory family.

He was appointed in In 1521 adjoint of the Voivode of Transylvania, and served under the Voivode John Zápolya. After the Battle of Mohács in 1526, Stephen supported Zápolya's claim to the Kingship of Hungary and in 1529 was made Voivode of Transylvania.

He fathered eight children with his wife Catherine Telegdi.



Andrew (died 1563)


Anna (? –1570), who apparently was born after her father's death, the mother of the "Blood Countess" Elizabeth Báthory.

Elizabeth (? –1562), who apparently was born well after her father's death

Christopher (1530–1581), who governed Transylvania in the absence of his younger brother Stefan.

Stephen (1533–1586), who became Voivode (and later Prince) of Transylvania and King of Poland.

Treaty of Gyalu

The Treaty of Gyalu was an agreement between Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I and Isabella Jagiellon the queen dowager of the Eastern Hungarian Kingdom and the widow of John Zápolya, signed in Gyalu (today Gilău, Romania) by Gáspár Serédy captain of Upper Hungary and János Statileo bishop of Transylvania on December 29, 1541.

The participants tried to renegotiate John Sigismund Zápolya's possessions in connection with the previous Treaty of Nagyvárad. According to the treaty, Royal Hungary and the Eastern Hungarian Kingdom would have been re-united under Ferdinand's rule, in case he had recaptured Buda. However, the Diet of Torda negotiated the Ottoman disapproval in reference to the treaty in October and refused to accept the terms of the agreement on December 20, 1542.The eastern territories of the former medieval Kingdom of Hungary ruled by King John Sigismund Zápolya were known as the Eastern Hungarian Kingdom until the Treaty of Speyer (1570).

Treaty of Nagyvárad

The Treaty of Nagyvárad (or Treaty of Grosswardein) was a secret peace agreement between Emperor Ferdinand I and John Zápolya, rival claimants to the Kingdom of Hungary, signed in Grosswardein / Várad (modern-day Oradea, Romania) on February 24, 1538. In the treaty, they divided Hungary between them.

Ferdinand recognized Zápolya as John I, King of Hungary and ruler of two-thirds of the Kingdom,

while Zápolya conceded the rule of Ferdinand over western Hungary, and recognized him as heir to the Hungarian throne, since Zápolya was childless.

But in 1540, just before Zápolya's death, his wife bore him a son, John Sigismund Zápolya, and the agreement failed. John Sigismund was elected King of Hungary as John II by the Hungarian nobility. Ottoman Sultan Suleyman I, to whom John I had once sworn fealty, also recognized John II as King and his vassal. The struggle with Ferdinand and his successors resumed until 1571.

Ancestors of John Zápolya
4. László Zápolya
2. Stephen Zápolya
5. Dorothea
1. John Zápolya
24. Przemyslaus I Noszak, Duke of Cieszyn
12. Boleslaus I, Duke of Cieszyn
25. Elisabeth of Bytom
6. Przemyslaus II, Duke of Cieszyn
26. Siemowit IV, Duke of Masovia
13. Euphemia of Masovia
27. Alexandra of Lithuania
3. Hedwig of Cieszyn
28. Bolesław III of Warsaw
14. Bolesław IV of Warsaw
29. Anna of Halshany
7. Anna of Warsaw
15. Barbara of Ruthenia
House of Árpád
House of Přemysl
House of Wittelsbach
Capetian House of Anjou
House of Luxembourg
House of Habsburg
House of Jagiellon
House of Hunyadi
House of Jagiellon
House of Zápolya
House of Habsburg
House of Habsburg-Lorraine

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