1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Louis II. of Hungary

LOUIS II. (1506-1526), king of Hungary and Bohemia, was the only son of Wladislaus II., king of Hungary and Bohemia, and the French princess Anne of Candale. Prematurely born at Buda on the 1st of July 1506, it required all the resources of medical science to keep the sickly child alive, yet he developed so precociously that at the age of thirteen he was well bearded and moustached, while at eighteen his hair was silvery white. His parts were good and he could speak and write six languages at a very early age, but the zeal of his guardians and tutors to make a man of him betimes nearly ruined his feeble constitution, while the riotous life led by him and his young consort, Maria of Austria, whom he wedded on the 13th of January 1522, speedily disqualified him for affairs, so that at last he became an object of ridicule at his own court. He was crowned king of Hungary on the 4th of June 1508, and king of Bohemia on the 11th of May 1509, and was declared of age when he succeeded his father on the 11th of December 1521. But during the greater part of his reign he was the puppet of the magnates and kept in such penury that he was often obliged to pawn his jewels to get proper food and clothing. His guardians, Cardinal Bakócz and Count George of Brandenburg-Anspach, shamefully neglected him, squandered the royal revenues and distracted the whole kingdom with their endless dissensions. Matters grew even worse on the death of Bakócz, when the magnates István Báthory, János Zapolya and István Verböczy fought each other furiously, and used the diets as their tools. Added to these troubles was the ever-present Turkish peril, which became acute after the king, with insensate levity, arrested the Ottoman envoy Berham in 1521 and refused to unite with Suleiman in a league against the Habsburgs. Nevertheless in the last extremity Louis showed more of manhood than any of his counsellors. It was he who restored something like order by intervening between the magnates and the gentry at the diet of 1525. It was he who collected in his camp at Tolna the army of 25,000 men which perished utterly on the fatal field of Mohács on the 29th of August 1526. He was drowned in the swollen stream of Csele on his flight from the field, being the second prince of the house of Jagiello who laid down his life for Hungary.

See Rerum Hungaricarum libri (vol. 2, ed. Ferencz Toldy, Budapest, 1867); and József Podhradczky, King Louis (Hung.) (Budapest, 1860).

(R. N. B.)