A diplomatic dead-end: Gábor Bethlen's marriage with Catherine of Brandenburg
Marrying off his sister, Catherine to Gábor Bethlen, prince of Transylvania, in 1626 en-tailed a lot of risks for Georg Wilhelm, elector of Brandenburg. Contrary to the expecta-tions, the reactions of the emperor were quite mild – in sharp contrast to those of Sigis-mund III, king of Poland, who went as far as to threaten the elector with depriving him of his fief, the Duchy of Prussia because of this decision. The paper argues that neither Beth-len's generosity in financial questions related to the marriage, nor the envisaged coopera-tion for the Protestant cause could have been strong enough arguments for Georg Wilhelm to take such a risk. However, there are some signs that point to a possible explanation: that Bethlen's envoys in the early autumn of 1625 secretly promised the Brandenburg court that Catherine would be elected as the prince's successor (which did happen later, in June 1626). But the high price the prince paid for his fiancée did not pay off: the military col-lapse of Brandenburg in 1626-1627 made any political cooperation impossible and there is little evidence that the prestige of Bethlen raised significantly thanks to his new consort. On the other hand, the election of Catherine created strong tension in Transylvanian poli-tics and led to a short period of turmoil bordering on a civil war after Bethlen's death in 1629-1630. Thus, this marriage can be considered Gábor Bethlen's greatest political mis-take: the substantial investments brought in negative results only.
Alfonso Montecuccoli in the service of the Habsburg dynasty
In his work on the history of the Thirty Years War (1618–1648), Peter Hamish Wilson points out that several military generals, who participated in the first phase of the biggest and most significant European armed conflict of the 17th century, had gathered their first military experiences or had established their military reputation in the Fifteen Years War (1593–1606) against the Ottoman Empire, which prepared them for commanding larger armies later. Examples include Albrecht Wenzel Eusebius Valdštein/Wallenstein, Jean T’Serclaes de Tilly or the famous-notorious commander of the Protestant Union, Peter Ernst II von Mansfeld. Raimondo Montecuccoli, who was undoubtedly one of the most fa-mous generals of the Thirty Years War, cannot belong to this group, given that he was born in 1609. But I must note that he was not the first member of the family who decided to serve the Habsburg dynasty instead of the Modena princes. In my paper, I follow those four-decades from the life of one of the famed 17th-century general's distant relative, called Alfonso Montecuccoli, during which he was serving the Habsburg dynasty, with special emphasis on his role in the Fifteen Years War.
Hajduk against Cossacks during Gábor Bethlen's first anti-Habsburg campaign
To compensate for the lack of mobility of the imperial army during the Thirty Years War, imperial generals hired Cossack light horsemen, who were tasked with neutralizing the Hajduk, who employed similar tactics. But the Cossacks proved to be less effective because – as opposed to the Hajduk – they were fighting on foreign land, for a foreign ruler and a foreign religion, which substantially limited their military performance and reliability. As waging open battles were not among their strengths, the presence of the Cossacks on the Habsburg side was actually more important psychologically, but with their independent operations and frequent disobedience to orders they caused a lot of trouble to Ferdinand II. Primarily this is what explains why the emperor was quick to urge their dissolution once serious danger was over. But it must be noted that ultimately it was the foreign conflicts of 1619–1920, the defeat of the Bohemians at White Mountain, the Sultan's fiasco against the Rzeczpospolita at Chocim in 1620 and the counterattack of Ferdinand II, that forced the Transylvanian prince to a compromise. In all these events the Cossacks played a decisive role. After the pacification of the Bohemian and Moravian territories, the Cossacks became an uncom-fortable burden for the Emperor, so they were quickly dismissed. This way, ultimately it was the absence of the Cossack auxiliary troops that forced the imperial government to sign the Treaty of Nikolsburg with Gábor Bethlen.
Gábor Bethlen's rise to power as seen in Ottoman sources and historiography. Tayyib Gökbilgin's research work and results
The paper aims to call attention to the lifework of Tayyip Gökbilgin, who, thanks to his Hungarology studies completed in Ankara, was mostly interested in Turkish-Hungarian history. Gökbilgin's works provide an overview of almost the entire period of Turkish-Hungarian relations. But the paper discusses in detail only one of his papers, published in 1950, which gives a brief account of the 16th-century history of the Transylvanian inde-pendent state, while focusing on Gábor Bethlen's rise to power. The work is a thorough cri-tique of the opinion of Gyula Szekfű, the leading Hungarian historian of the interwar peri-od. Gökbilgin wrote this paper after conducting thorough research in various archives, so his results reveal novelties to Hungarian historians. But the paper goes beyond presenting how the arguments of the Turkish historian counter the views of his Hungarian colleague: it also provides additional data on the history of Gábor Bethlen's rise to power, based on the author's own research. Using the text of a memorandum from the Grand Vizier, it spec-ifies the point from when the Sublime Porte was effectively preparing for an armed solu-tion. (The source is being prepared for publication by Mehmet Tosun and Feridun M. Eme-cen, I used it and published its text in Turkish and in Hungarian translation with their permission.) At the same time, on the basis of the first Ottoman charter it was possible to substantiate the fact that the Porte already considered Gábor Bethlen the de facto ruler of Transylvania at least one month before his election.
The city, the witch and the chancellery. The case of Mrs. Mátyás Horváth during the great Szeged witch-hunt (1728–1729)
The Szeged witch trials held between 1728 and 1744 included several proceedings, the most prominent period of which was the witch-craze of 1728–1729. This latter can be regarded not only one of the biggest but also well researched legal proceeding of the kind. The events have been thoroughly studied and we have a significant amount of literature and source publications at our disposal, but historians have not provided comprehensive explanations yet. Not even this paper can answer all the questions related to the great Szeged witch trial. Accordingly, it focuses on the triple relationship between a single defendant, the city con-ducting the trial and the chancellery that ordered the witchcraft investigation. Through this, it attempts to present how the events of the trial unfolded and how the economic and political interests of the city came into conflict with the centralizing reform efforts of the central government. It is especially interesting that it does so from a “low viewpoint” to let personal motivations and social roles manifest more sharply. In accordance with this, it explores the case of an accused woman: “Bogadussánné, Horváth Mátyásné Ilona aliter Eörse”. Through her trial we can also examine those social motivations and interests that were the driving force behind the largest Hungarian witch hunt. The life of Mrs. Mátyás Horváth is suitable for such an analysis as she was present at all the stages of the events and the vast majority of sources related her are available. Accordingly, the paper intends to discuss four topics in detail: the history of the trial according to the stages of the legal pro-ceedings, the history of the town in the period preceding the trials, Mrs. Mátyás Horváth's role in the trial and her fate, as well as the investigation of the Hungarian Chancellery in the witch hunt case. Her case does not only raise the possibility of corrupt legal proceed-ings, which were a consequence of the city's internal discord, but it also pinpoints the rea-sons for the failure of the investigation by the court.