1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Rákóczy
RÁKÓCZY, the name of a noble Hungarian family, which in the 10th century was settled in the county of Zemplén, and members of which played an important part in the history of Hungary during the 17th century.
George I., prince of Transylvania (1591–1648), who began his career as governor of Onod, was the youngest son of Sigismund Rákóczy (1544–1608), who shared in the insurrection of Stephen Bocskay against the Emperor Rudolph II., and was for a short time prince of Transylvania. In 1616 he married his second wife, the highly gifted zealous Calvinist, Susannah Lorántffy, who exercised a great influence over him. He then took a leading part in the rebellion of Gabriel Bethlen, who made him commandant of Kassa, and was elected prince of Transylvania on the 26th of November 1630 by the diet of Segesvár. He followed the policy of Gabriel Bethlen, based on the maintenance of the political and religious liberties of the Hungarians. His alliance with Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden for that purpose was no secret at Vienna, where the court estimated at their right value Rákóczy’s hypocritical assurances of pacific amity. On the 2nd of February 1644, at the solicitation of the Swedish and French ambassadors, and with the consent of the Porte, he declared war against the Emperor Ferdinand III. Nearly the whole of imperial Hungary was soon in his hands, and Ferdinand, hardly pressed by the Swedes at the same time, was compelled to conclude (Sept. 16, 1645) with Rákóczy the peace of Linz, which accorded full religious liberty to the Magyars, and ceded to Rákóczy the fortress of Regéc and the Tokaj district. On the death of Wladislaus IV. (1648) Rákóczy aimed at the Polish throne also, but died before he could accomplish his design. His capital, Gyula Fehérvár, was a great Protestant resort and asylum.
See Secret Correspondence of the Age of George Rákóczy I. (Hung.), ed. Ágoston Ötvös (Klausenburg, 1848); Rákóczy’s Correspondence with Pázmány, Esterhazy, &c. (Hung.), ed. Antal Beke (Budapest, 1882); Sándor Szilagyi, The Rákóczy Family in the 18th Century (Hung.) (Pest, 1861).
George II., prince of Transylvania (1621–1660), was the eldest son of George I. and Susannah Lorántffy. He was elected prince of Transylvania during his father’s lifetime (Feb. 19, 1642), and married (Feb. 3, 1643), Sophia Báthory, who was previously compelled by his mother to reject the Roman faith and turn Calvinist. On ascending the throne (Oct. 11, 1648), his first thought was to realize his father’s Polish ambitions. With this object in view, he allied himself, in the beginning of 1649, with the Cossack hetman, Bohdan Chmielnicki, and the hospodars of Moldavia and Wallachia. It was not, however, till 1657, as the ally of Gustavus Adolphus, that he led a rabble of 40,000 semi-savages against the Polish king, John Casimir. He took Cracow and entered Warsaw with the Swedes, but the moment his allies withdrew the whole scheme collapsed, and it was only on the most humiliating terms that the Poles finally allowed him to return to Transylvania. Here (Nov. 3, 1657) the diet, at the command of the Porte, deposed him for undertaking an unauthorized war, but in January 1658 he was reinstated by the Medgyes Diet. Again he was deposed by the grand vizier, and again reinstated as if nothing had happened, but all in vain. The Turks again invaded Transylvania, and Rákóczy died at Nagyvarad of the wounds received at the battle of Gyula (May 1660).
See Imre Bethlen, Life and Times of George Rákóczy II. (Hung.) (Nagy-Enyed, 1829); Life (Hung.) in Sándor Szilagyi’s Hungarian Historical Biographies (Budapest, 1891).
Francis I., prince of Transylvania (1645–1676), was the only son of George Rákóczy II. and Sophia Bathory. He was elected prince of Transylvania during his father’s lifetime (Feb. 18, 1652), but lost both crown and father at the same time, and withdrew to the family estates, where, at Patak and Makovica, he kept a splendid court. His mother converted him to Catholicism, and on the 1st of March 1666 he married Helen Zrinyi. In 1670 he was implicated in the Zrinyi-Frangepan conspiracy, and only saved his life by the interposition of the Jesuits on the payment of an enormous ransom.
See Sándor Szilagyi, The Rákóczy Family in the 17th Century (Hung.) (Pest, 1861).
Francis II., prince of Transylvania (1676–1735), was born at Borsi, Zemplén county, on the 27th of March 1676. Having lost his father during infancy, he was educated under the guardianship of his heroic mother, Helen Zrinyi, in an ultra patriotic Magyar environment, though the Emperor Leopold I. claimed a share in his tutelage. In 1682 his mother wedded Imre Thököly, who took no part in the education of Rákóczy, but used him for his political purposes. Unfortunately his stepfather’s speculations suffered shipwreck, and Rákóczy lost the greater part of his estates. It is said that the imperialists robbed him of 1,000,000 florins’ worth of plate and supported a whole army corps out of his revenues (1683–85). As a child of twelve he witnessed the heroic defence by his mother of his ancestral castle of Munkacs against Count Antonio Caraffa (d. 1693). On its surrender (Jan. 7, 1688) the child was transferred to Vienna that he might be isolated from the Hungarian nation and brought up as an Austrian magnate. Cardinal Kollonics, the sworn enemy of Magyar separatism, now became his governor, and sent him to the Jesuit college at Neuhaus in Bohemia. In 1690 he completed his course at Prague, and in 1694 he married Maria Amelia of Hesse-Rheinfels, and lived for the next few years on his Hungarian estates. At this time Rákóczy’s birth, rank, wealth and brilliant qualities made him the natural leader of the Magyar nation, and his name was freely used in all the insurrections of the period, though at first he led a life of the utmost circumspection (1697–1700). Hungary was then regarded at Vienna as a conquered realm, whose naturally rebellious inhabitants could only be kept under by force of arms. Kollonics was the supreme ruler of the kingdom, and his motto was “ Make of the Magyar first a slave, then a beggar, and then a Catholic.” It was a matter of life or death for the Magyars to resist such a reign of terror and save the national independence by making Hungary independent of Austria as heretofore. Rákóczy and a few other patriotic magnates deeply sympathized with the sufferings of the na.tion, and on the eve of the war of the Spanish Succession they entered into correspondence with Louis XIV. for assistance through one Longueval, a Belgian general in the Austrian service, who professed to be a friend of the Rákóczyans, who initiated him into all their secrets. Longueval betrayed his trust, and Rákóczy was arrested and imprisoned at Eperjes. His wife saved him from certain death by enabling him to escape to Poland in the uniform of a dragoon officer. On the 18th of June 1703 he openly took up arms against the emperor, most of whose troops were now either on the Rhine or in upper Italy; but, unfortunately, the Magyar gentry stood aloof from the rising, and his ill-supported peasant levies (the Kuruczes) were repeatedly scattered. Yet at first he had some success, and on the 26th of September was able to write to Louis XIV. that the whole kingdom up to the Danube was in his power. He also issued his famous manifesto, Recrudescunt vulnera inclytae gentis Hungariae, to justify himself in the eyes of Europe. The battle of Blenheim made any direct help from France impossible, and on the 13th of June 1704 his little army of 7000 men was routed by the imperialists at Koronco and subsequently at Nagyszombat. Want of arms, money, native officers and infantry, made, indeed, any permanent success in the open field impossible. Nevertheless, in May 1705, when the Emperor Leopold I. was succeeded by Joseph I., the position of Rákóczy was at least respectable. With the aid of several eminent French officers and engineers he had drilled his army into some degree of efficiency, and had at his disposal 52 horse and 31 foot regiments. Even after the rout of Pudmerics (Aug. 11, 1705), he could put 100,000 men in the field. In September 1705 he was also able to hold a diet at Szécsény, attended by many nobles and some prelates, to settle the government of the country.
Rákóczy, who had already been elected Prince of Transylvania (July 6, 1704), now surrounded himself with a council of state of 24 members. The religious question caused him especial difficulty. An ardent Catholic himself, nine-tenths of his followers were nevertheless stern Calvinists, and in his efforts to secure them toleration he alienated the pope, who dissuaded Louis XIV. from assisting him. Peace negotiations with the emperor during 1705 came to nothing, because the court of Vienna would not acknowledge the independence of Transylvania, while France refused to recognize the rebels officially till they had formally proclaimed the deposition of the Habsburgs, which last desperate measure was actually accomplished by the Onod diet on the 13th of June 1707. This was a fatal mistake, for it put an end to any hope of compromise, and alienated both the emperor’s foreign allies and the majority of the Magyar gentry, while from Louis XIV. Rákóczy only got 100,000 thalers, the Golden Fleece, and a promise (never kept) that the Hungarians should be included in the general peace. But into a direct alliance with Rákóczy the French king would not enter, and Laszló Vetési, Rákóczy's envoy at Versailles, in 1708 advised his master to place no further reliance on the French court. Shortly afterwards, at Trencsen (Aug 3, 1708), Rákóczy's army was scattered to the winds. The rout of Trencsen was followed by a general abandonment. The remnant of the host, too, was now thoroughly demoralized and dared not face the imperialists. A fresh attempt to renew the war in 1710 was speedily ruined by the disaster of Romhány (Jan. 22), and a desperate effort to secure the help of Peter the Great also failing, Rákóczy gave up everything for lost, and on the 21st of February 1711 quitted his country for ever, refusing to accept the general amnesty conceded after the peace of Szatmár (see Hungary, History). He lived for a time in France on the bounty of Louis XIV., finally entering the Carmelite Order. In 1717, with forty comrades, he volunteered to assist the Turks against the Austrians, but on arriving at Constantinople discovered there was nothing for him to do. He lived for the rest of his life at the little town of Rodostó, where he died on the 8th of April 1735. His remains were solemnly transferred to Hungary in 1907 at the expense of the state.