Dejiny - Dejiny pod mikroskopom - Slovenské dejiny - Jiskra (www.dejiny.sk)
Role of John Jiskra in the history of Slovakia
the 1440s, John Jiskra of Brandýs, who originated from the Moravian
branch of the Czech nobility, became the main support in the Kingdom of
Hungary of Albrecht Habsburg's widow, Elizabeth, and her six month old
son Ladislav born after his father's death. Jiskra was bound for years
to the Habsburg struggles for the Hungarian crown which took place
chiefly in Slovakia. He was a skillful commander, diplomat, and
politician. He reached the rank of a Hungarian magnate and was also able
to defend his own rights. He remained true to his military service
duties which had been predetermined from his youth till his death.
on unique personalities in the history of humankind are usually
influenced by the particular atmosphere of the period in which they
originated. John Jiskra from Brandýs was not an exception. He was able
to maintain control for many years in the 15th century over almost all
of what is today Slovakia, although with brief interruptions.
increasing ambitions of the lords of Brandýs were limited by their weak
economic base on the right bank of the river Tichá Orlice, so they
split into two branches, Czech and Moravian. In 1274 Jindřich and Vintíř
obtained from the Bishopric of Olomouc, land near Přerov in northern
Moravia, associated with vassalage. In the 14th century, an extensive
property enticed Vintíř's sons, Milota and Beneš of Brandýs to enter
vassalage and a service relationship to the powerful lords of Kravaře.
After the decline of their family there was nothing else they could do.
Evidently as a consequence of the adventurous life of Oldřich of Brandýs,
the lords of Boskovice obtained in 1340 the family castle of Brandýs.
Alšík of Brandýs, Milota's son, belonged to part of the family in
1372. It is not known whether Alšík had children, but we know he was
married since he made a donation to a monastery in Fulnek together with
his wife, Agnežka, in 1391. Alšík is assumed to be the father of John
Jiskra, whose birth dates back to 1400. However it is impossible to
exclude the son of Beneš, and lastly John of Brandýs, nicknamed Lysek
in 1406. He was also originally a vassal of the Bishop of Olomouc. It is
very improbable that Jiskra's youth was not marked by the influences and
surroundings he encountered during his period of life in the Bishopric
of Olomouc, and which undoubtedly marked the strength of his religious
convictions. He did not learn the military craft only on the soil of his
native country, but probably also in Italy and possibly Poland. He is
said to have served in sea battles on the side of the Venetians. He
certainly appropriated the military art of John Žižka of Trocnov and
the Hussites, which contributed many elements to military tactics and
strategy in Central Europe. He may have fought under Žižka's able
successor, Prokop Holý, originally a priest.
the title of Všechovice, Jiskra participated on 21st November 1431 in
the act of establishing new land registers, since the old ones were
destroyed by fire during the siege of Opava. Všechovice near Kelč in
Moravia still belonged to Jiskra in 1464. In 1444, he ceded another
property of appropriate value, Nahošovice in Dřevohosticko to Pašek
of Zásmuky. Jiskra obtained Uherský Ostroh in Moravia as a reward from
Ladislav, King of Hungary and Bohemia, who also had the title of
Austrian Margrave. Before serving the surviving family of the monarch
Albrecht of Habsburg, John Jiskra may have served in the mercenary
forces of Albrecht's father in law, Sigismund of Luxemburg Holy Roman
Emperor, King of Bohemia and Hungary and younger son of Charles IV.
However a document of King Sigismund, issued in Prague on 26th March
1437, by which the monarch turned to the city of Sopron in the matter of
financing 12 ships prepared in Vienna and other places, sailing on the
Danube from Bratislava to Belgrade, does not directly mention Jiskra by
name. Only the rank of the commander - Captain of the Taborites is
mentioned, and it remains uncertain that this would refer only and
exclusively to Jiskra.
first mention of Jiskra in Slovakia dates from 22nd August 1440, when he
was captured together with a small group of armed men before Svätý
(Hronský) Beňadik on the Hron, the fortified seat of an influential
and powerful Benedictine abbey. Jiskra as the main support in Hungary of
the royal widow of Albrecht of Habsburg, Elizabeth and her six month old
son Ladislav born after his father's death, and the leader of a force of
about 5,000 mercenaries, composed of former Hussite warriors recruited
in Bohemia, fell into the hands of King Vladislav Jagiello of Poland,
who had been recognized as King of Hungary by the Parliament in Buda.
However the main activity of Jiskra in Slovakia could have begun later.
Then he was freed from imprisonment in one of the castles of Pongrác of
Sv.Mikuláš, under whose command he may have fought against the Turks
when still in the service of Sigismund of Luxemburg.
wish of Albrecht of Habsburg, who succumbed to dysentery on 27th October
1439, was that Austria, Bohemia and Hungary should remain connected by a
personal union, that is by the person of the monarch, who should be his
expected but still unborn son, as determined in his will five days
before his death. As a result of fear of anti-German feelings in Hungary
and especially in Buda, he would have his seat in Bratislava. They had
already reproached Albrecht for spending little time in the country. The
constant fear of the Islamic conquerors influenced the struggle for the
throne of Hungary, which was marked by longer term armed encounters. At
the same time many in Hungary saw in union with the fragmented Germany
Empire no solution to the Turkish threat, and placed all their hope in
the house of Jagiello. The group which regarded King Vladislav III of
Poland as the most advantageous candidate for the Hungarian throne,
especially included the highest circles of the Hungarian aristocracy,
the state and county dignitaries. At their front stood the great
magnates: the Palatine Vavrinec Hedervári, John Hunyady, the lords of
Rozhanovce, Perín, Pavlovce, Csáky and Bubek. These expected salvation
from the Turks from the military aid of the greatest power in Eastern
Europe at the time: the Greater Lithuanian monarchy. The pregnant
Elizabeth, desperately hoping for the birth of a male heir, and
convinced that she could rule by herself, was mainly supported by her
nephews Ulrich Cejlský and Ladislav of Gorjan (Gara) with their friends
and supporters. She also had the support of the German King, Friedrich
III, who provided Elizabeth with finance, with which she could employ
Jiskra connected for many years with the Habsburg struggle in Hungary, matured into an extraordinarily able military commander, diplomat and politician. In this he received not a little help from his character traits, which were well known to his contemporary, the Italian humanist Enea Silvio Piccolomini, later Pope Pius II (1458-1464) working in the diplomatic services of the Emperor and also the Pope in Bohemia and Hungary. In his book "About Famous Men", Piccolomini mentioned Jiskra as a man of medium height, dark and unshaven, not lacking in humour, and not craving money. Like every good military commander, Jiskra was dedicated to his calling with body and soul, gladly sitting at the same table as the soldiers. He gave ungrudgingly, even if he had very little. At the same time he loved pomp and splendour. On ordinary days he took everything lightly, but in difficult moments, he became a mature diplomat. In selecting means to achieve an aim, his conscience did not trouble him very much, but he served faithfully. Bishop Simon of Eger, the most consistent supporter of the Polish dynasty, could also be convinced of this.
The arrangement of the marriage to Jiskra of the
daughter of his younger brother, George of Rozhanovce count of the
County of Bratislava, did not fulfill the bishop's expectations. Jiskra
did not betray Queen Elizabeth. However events were complicated. The
true reasons for Jiskra to defend a large part of Slovakia for the
under-aged Ladislav, disappeared with the death of Queen Elizabeth on
17th December 1442 at Ráb (Györ). Jiskra's further activity in
Slovakia became more legal as he turned to Friedrich III. Jiskra could
continue to defend Ladislav, while he was educated in the court at
preparations for a great expedition against the Turks, it was considered
most important to at least temporarily stop the war with Jiskra in
Hungary. The very adroit policy of the Papal Legate, Juliano Cesarini
achieved a relaxation in tension. Jiskra prolonged the negotiations as
much as he could. He knew very well what the negotiations were about.
Neither side remained inactive. Around August 15th 1443, Jiskra occupied
the castle of Spišský Hrad, to which the captain of the castle, Peter
Bask, by an irony of fate had transferred the archive of Spišská
Kapitula, a short time before. Spišská Kapitula was one of the
"loca credibilia", producing and preserving the most valuable
legal documents concerned with public affairs and property, that is it
carried out the work done in other countries by public notaries. This
greatly strengthened Jiskra's power in Spiš. Jiskra who had succeeded
in mastering almost everything, which was entrusted to him, entered into
negotiations more willingly. During the negotiations with the Bishop of
Eger, who represented Vladislav III, Jiskra was really recognized as the
equal of the Hungarian magnates, which was not acceptable to many.
During preparations for a great expedition against the Turks, it was considered most important to at least temporarily stop the war with Jiskra in Hungary. The very adroit policy of the Papal Legate, Juliano Cesarini achieved a relaxation in tension. Jiskra prolonged the negotiations as much as he could. He knew very well what the negotiations were about. Neither side remained inactive. Around August 15th 1443, Jiskra occupied the castle of Spišský Hrad, to which the captain of the castle, Peter Bask, by an irony of fate had transferred the archive of Spišská Kapitula, a short time before. Spišská Kapitula was one of the "loca credibilia", producing and preserving the most valuable legal documents concerned with public affairs and property, that is it carried out the work done in other countries by public notaries. This greatly strengthened Jiskra's power in Spiš. Jiskra who had succeeded in mastering almost everything, which was entrusted to him, entered into negotiations more willingly. During the negotiations with the Bishop of Eger, who represented Vladislav III, Jiskra was really recognized as the equal of the Hungarian magnates, which was not acceptable to many.
bishop negotiated with Jiskra as if he were the equal of a king. A
meeting between Jiskra and Vladislav in Esztergom or Buda was intended
to bring the final peace. As a preliminary, a peace of about a year,
which brought Jiskra all the conquests he had achieved, was concluded on
1st September 1443 at Spišská Nová Ves.
The tragedy near Varna on 10th November 1444,
when not one European royal court showed much interest in the successful
course of the expedition, and about which eye witnesses maintained that
King Vladislav was not killed significantly affected political
development in the country. Cardinal Cesarini and Bishop Simon perished.
John Hunyady, escaping through Wallachia, was captured by Prince Vlad
Drakul, formerly an ally of Hungary. Rumours about the wandering of the
repentant pilgrim Vladislav, then called "Varnenčík", for
breaking the peace previously concluded with the sultan at Szeged,
circulated around Europe for a long time. Vladislav was thought to have
been wounded, and the fact that the sultan had Vladislav's body found,
exhibited his head and burial, did not change this.
Hungary the way to feudal anarchy was opened. The violation of property
rights, the pilfering of royal, urban and rural taxes, occurred daily.
Fairs and markets were limited, tolls and "thirtieths" were
collected arbitrarily. Everything was repeatedly subjected to plundering
and burning by mercenaries, without regard for who they served. A firm
ruling power, a king was lacking. Puzzling rumours circulated about
Vladislav, and Ladislav was only four years old. The assembled Hungarian
Parliament, not convinced of the death of King Vladislav, postponed
recognition of Ladislav the Posthumous as king until 30th May 1445.
Friedrich III was asked to hand over Ladislav the Posthumous, son of the
unfortunate Queen Elizabeth and to return the Hungarian crown. The
crown, which was known as Saint Stephen's, and which was misappropriated
from Visegrád to Komárno, as early as February 1440, on the initiative
of Queen Elizabeth, by her assistant, Helena Kottaner. In this period,
the queen found sympathy with Friedrich III, who gained guardianship
over the little Ladislav and kept him in Austria. Elizabeth then placed
the child, together with the Hungarian crown, under Friedrich's
protection. On 15th May 1440, he had Ladislav crowned at Székesfehérvár
by Cardinal Dionýz of Seč in Rimava.
mission of John Jiskra to Friedrich III was unsuccessful. Ladislav and
the crown remained with Friedrich III. There is said to have been a
meeting between Jiskra and the five year old Ladislav. It is said that
they presented Jiskra to Ladislav as his best soldier and supporter. The
naive child with sincere intentions reached into a purse and selected
some coins for Jiskra, who had them set in gold and kept them for the
rest of his life as the greatest treasure. The event is interpreted
differently, either as Jiskra showing his faithfulness to the little
king, or as Jiskra's hypocrisy. However the parliament also did not deny
that Jiskra made the greatest contribution to the recognition of
Ladislav as King of Hungary. The election of the chief captains
confirmed this. Seven of them were appointed to administer the country,
since the king was a minor. Ladislav's court party was formed by John
Jiskra, Pongrác of Sv.Mikuláš and Imrich Bubek, the greater part of
whose property was in Gemer. It can be said that Slovakia was under
their rule. The other captains formed the national or Hunyady party:
John Hunyady, Juraj of Rozhanovce Count of the County of Bratislava,
Nicholas Uljaki and Michal Orság. The chaos in the country was not
ended. Each captain considered himself an absolute ruler.
1445, the Hungarian Parliament was faced with a difficult decision. By
recognizing the hereditary claims of Ladislav it would confirm the
legitimacy of John Jiskra. By electing Ladislav to the throne, Jiskra
would become an intruder damaging the country, and the towns and the
Habsburgs could not agree with this. The parliament expressed
bewilderment and indecisiveness by inclining to King Ladislav, and on
6th June 1446, entrusting the administration of the country during his
minority, to the Vojevod of Transylvania, John Hunyady, with the title
of "gubernator". Hunyady did not need long to think about how
to get rid of the Habsburgs and Jiskra, and place himself or his family
on the Hungarian throne. However to free himself from the presence of
Jiskra was not so easy. Jiskra had been given property by Queen
Elizabeth, so that as a land owner he was an inhabitant of Hungary with
the associated rights. John Hunyady, the richest magnate in the country,
did not have enough strength to get rid of Jiskra. On 13th September
1446, in negotiations with the magnates and prelates at Buda, Jiskra
could demand a complete guarantee of the rights of citizenship, with all
the privileges, dignities and advantages, equal to the rights of a
person born in Hungary.
could not change the plans or the distrust of the insincere Hungarian
oligarchy or scrupulous respect for Hungarian laws. The March Parliament
of 1447, at which the functions of the chief captains were abolished,
changed nothing. Hunyady was annoyed that Jiskra did not stop using the
title of supreme captain of King Ladislav, which was granted to Jiskra
at the beginning of 1444, on the authority of the Emperor Friedrich III.
The ravaging of the Komorovský brothers from a Polish aristocratic
family and Pongrác of Sv.Mikuláš, instigated by John Hunyady, also
failed to have an impact on Jiskra. The second marriage of John Jiskra
after he was widowed in 1447, with the daughter of John Hunyady in 1449,
was not a success. Mutual distrust prevented Jiskra participating in the
great expedition against Sultan Murad II, which ended with a great
defeat on 18th October 1448 on Kosovo Polje in Serbia, between Priština
ravaging of Spiš was unhappily endured by the Poles, to whom Sigismund
of Luxemburg had leased thirteen towns on 18th November 1412. The King
of Poland demanded a pacification of the situation. Jiskra sought peace
with the ravagers, and a meeting with the Bishop of Krakov. The Polish
nobility placed its hope in Jiskra. The meeting with the Bishop of
Krakov did not occur, because one of the Komorovský brothers went over
to Jiskra in the first half of 1449, and on 4th May a treaty of
permanent peace with the most powerful feudal lords and towns was
concluded. In June 1449, the Parliament in Pest concerned itself with
Jiskra's position in Slovakia.
the summer of 1450, Jiskra occupied the Premonstratensian monastery at
Šahy, from where he demanded manpower, military material and weapons
from the towns. Discontent nurtured by irregular pay grew among Jiskra's
mercenaries. Jiskra stopped trusting the towns, to which the appeals of
Hunyady were directed. Fearing the loss of the towns and the weakening
of military garrisons he withdrew to northern Slovakia. In the middle of
August 1451, John Hunyady did not attack Jiskra, who was not accompanied
by a large army, but began to besiege the fortified Cistercian or
Benedictine monastery of St. Stephen, which was defended by a garrison
of 500 of Jiskra's men. Breaking the defences of this smaller fortress
would damage the defence system of Jiskra's domains, since the Lučenec
Basin opened the way to the Central Slovak mining towns and the castle
of Zvolen, Jiskra's frequent seat. From Zvolen, which lay roughly in the
centre of Jiskra's lordship, the territory of Slovakia which he
administered could most easily be controlled. Meanwhile, Jiskra had
succeeded in settling matters in northern Slovakia, and assembling about
4,000 battle hardened and well armed cavalry and infantry men, with whom
he rapidly proceeded to Lučenec, where he appeared on 6th September
1451. At Lučenec, Jiskra crushed the 10 to 12 thousand man army of the
"gubernator", but the truth is that the most perfectly trained
and tested of Hunyady's units remained in the south of the country. At
the decisive turning point of many years of struggle, Jiskra made an
irreparable mistake. He did not pursue the fleeing Hungarian army, and
he did not capture John Hunyady. Hunyady's army stopped, regrouped and
summoned elite mercenaries from the south.
enclave and army brought the towns extreme economic exhaustion. The
continual fighting did not bring the towns prosperity or any other
advantages. At the same time, they were Jiskra's most important material
and political support, which however weakened him further. The situation
helped Hunyady, who commenced a powerful effort for the definitive
destruction of Jiskra's power. The inundation by Hunyady's armies
destroyed the best of Jiskra's hetmen, who included Martin Valgatha. The
excessively vigorous ambitions of the gubernator John Hunyady could not
be acceptable to various people, and so these opponents of the
gubernator temporarily adopted a more moderate position towards Jiskra.
This was already shown in February 1452, when a conference to which
Jiskra was not invited began in Bratislava and continued in Vienna. At
the same time, the release of the young Ladislav the Posthumous from the
guardianship of Friedrich III, so that he could take care of the
government of Hungary, was again discussed.
Košice, Bardejov and Levoča, Jiskra's supporting pillar in Spiš, fell
away from Jiskra, the administrator of the Kingdom of Bohemia, George of
Poděbrad attempted to concern himself with their return. George took an
unusual initiative in the negotiations about the succession of Ladislav
the Posthumous in Bohemia and achieved greater success than the powerful
Oldřich of Rožmberk, who considered George as a self-appointed ruler
in the Czech lands. The immaturity of Ladislav could have enabled George
to rule in his place for only a few years. There could have been a
reconciliation of the Callixtine administrator with the Catholics, who
would have a counterweight against George in a ruler of the same
Vienna, Friedrich III, then already Holy Roman Emperor, could not resist
the pressure of Ulrich Celjský, and on 4th September 1452 he handed
over Ladislav the Posthumous, but not the Hungarian crown. Ladislav the
Posthumous or Ladislav V was recognized as sovereign in Hungary without
a new coronation, since he had already been crowned at a younger age.
John Hunyady, who henceforth held all the royal castles and incomes,
gave up the gubernatorship at the beginning of January in Vienna, and
now held the title of captain of the kingdom. He was granted property in
Transylvania, and on 1st February 1453 Ladislav the Posthumous gave
Hunyady the title Count of Bistrita (in Romania). Hunyady could
participate in the newly established, large and secret royal
chancellery. The hatred of Hunyady and his supporters, temporarily
associated with the supporters of Celjský was able to influence the
young king, and the issuing of a decree on 29th January 1453 by the
Parliament in Bratislava. The decree suppressed all the donations
granted by the Queen Mother, Elizabeth. By the suppression of the grants
of Queen Elizabeth, Jiskra was deprived of the dignity of chief captain,
his privileges and properties in Hungary. After more than a decade of
defending the hereditary rights of Ladislav the Posthumous, intrigues
were able to represent Jiskra to the young king as a person who wanted
to usurp power, since he did not bring about the king's release from the
hands of Friedrich III. However Jiskra could not proceed against the
Emperor, indeed it was precisely from the Emperor that Jiskra had
received consent and authorization to defend Ladislav the Posthumous
after the death of Queen Elizabeth.
formulation of the legal articles exempted Jiskra's opponents and
consequently the wording of the enacted proposal was most aimed at him,
although on a general level. A legal contradiction remained concerning
Jiskra's hereditary properties, which Jiskra did not receive from the
queen, but which John Hunyady had to guarantee according to the treaties
concluded with Jiskra in the previous years. It was possible to doubt
the validity of these treaties, although the same Parliament approved
the decisions of Hunyady, which he took while acting as the legal
representative of the kingdom. Jiskra, who was deprived of all rights,
left the country and found shelter with Friedrich III. Jiskra was
present at the coronation of Ladislav the Posthumous as King of Bohemia
on 28th October 1453 in Prague. He was very soon summoned by King
Ladislav, back to Hungary, where he could not suppress the "bratríci"
(brotherhoods of former Hussite soldiers), to whom a large number of
Jiskra's troops had gone over after his forced departure.
The King returned to Jiskra, the administration of the Spiš, Šariš and the mining towns, only so that Jiskra would stop the rise of the "bratrík" group. The beginnings of such groups are most frequently placed in the fourth decade of the 15th century, when not only in Slovakia, but also in Poland and Austria, the situation arose after the defeat of the Hussite armies at Lipany in 1434, that many soldiers, accustomed to an exclusively military way of life, could not find employment in mercenary armies. They could not live in a different way, and so they formed field camps for their own protection, and began to call themselves "bratríci". They evoked concern in the highest circles of Central Europe, where fear was again growing of Ottoman aggression, after the fall of Constantinople, the last bastion of resistance and power of the Byzantine Emperors, on 29th May 1453 when it was captured and occupied by the armies of Sultan Mehmed II, son of Murad II. In July 1453, Pope Nicholas V learnt from Piccolomini, that according to him, the mass flow of simple people to the "bratríci" was conditioned by high pay.
According to Piccolomini, every horseman
received a ducat a week, an infantry man half. When dividing loot, the
commanders did not receive more than ordinary soldiers. Anyone who came
on the last day received the same share as someone who served for the
whole month. Jiskra's past position already was not recovered, but he
considered marriage with Maria, daughter of the Serb Prince George
Brankovič and widow of Murad II. After Jiskra's return, the "bratrík"
groups mostly made up of his former soldiers, went over to him, but were
successful only against smaller and more demoralized groups of
"bratríci". The situation in which Jiskra found himself and
with which he agreed, could not be unmarked by the recent painful
disappointment, which he had experienced. He must have known that he was
more or less only used, but he clearly had no other starting point and
he did not seek one. Apart from this, the struggle for supreme power in
the country was not interrupted after the election of Ladislav the
Posthumous. In the uncertain situation, the "bratríci" were
able to reach their zenith in 1458, when their number reached 20, 000
men, and they had about 36 field camps and castles, of which only an
insignificant proportion lay outside the territory of Slovakia. They
rarely built new castles, but mostly reconstructed fortified places
including monasteries. At most they built strongholds such as on the
Zadná Hura Hill at Chmeľov.
wanted to make agreements with people he formerly, or not so long ago
commanded. However the agreements did not last very long. At first he
declared the most feared "bratrík" commander, Axamit, to be
an enemy of the country, a ravisher, but he preferred to agree with him.
Axamit came from Liděrovice near Tábor in south Bohemia, and belonged
to a minor noble family. While Jiskra was strengthening his power in
central and eastern Slovakia, John Hunyady died of plague at Zemun,
after his greatest victory over the huge army of Sultan Mehmed II. The
older son of John Hunyady, Ladislav, who aspired to his father's
position, killed Ulrich Celjský after a brief quarrel before an evening
banquet in Buda Castle. In the presence of Jiskra, Ladislav was charged
with treason to the king, and imprisoned together with his younger
brother Mathias, Bishop John Vitéz of Nagyvárad (Oradea) and others.
After two days he was beheaded.
unexpected death of the seventeen year old King Ladislav on 23rd
November 1457 in Prague, where he was to marry Magdalena, daughter of
the King of France, brought about a new situation. The basis of Jiskra's
activity in Slovakia lost its justification. Jiskra again found support
in George of Poděbrad, with whom Ladislav the Posthumous had left
Mathias Hunyady in internment. George aiming at the vacant Czech throne,
soon engaged his daughter Catharine to the possible claimant to the
throne of Hungary. Mathias made peace with Jiskra. King Kazimír IV of
Poland and the Emperor Friedrich III also declared their interest in the
Hungarian throne. Some of the Hungarian magnates, including Ladislav of
Gorjan and Nicholas Uljaki also aimed at it. Michal Szilágyi with an
army of 15,000 men and loyal middle nobility, who spent hours waiting on
the frozen Danube, vigorously resolved all this.
first Jiskra chose a waiting position. He did not arrive on the
Moravian-Hungarian border on 9th February 1458, where the marriage of
Mathias with the daughter of George of Poděbrad was confirmed. On the
14th February, Mathias went to Buda, where he was enthroned as King of
Hungary in the church of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary (the
Mathias Church), but without the Hungarian crown, which Friedrich III
still had. Jiskra knew that while he had nothing secured by agreement,
he could not get very involved. Jiskra still controlled part of central
and eastern Slovakia, but he could not pay his mercenaries. Probably as
a result of Friedrich III considering the election of Mathias invalid,
Jiskra went to Poland in March 1458. The Krakow canon and historian of
this period, John Dlugosz, wrote in his work "History of
Poland" that Jiskra offered the Hungarian crown to the King of
Poland, who was married to Elizabeth, sister of Ladislav the Posthumous.
The Polish King did not trust the Hungarians, who he blamed for
poisoning Ladislav the Posthumous, and he rejected Jiskra. Jiskra went
to fight for the Teutonic Knights. Jiskra's efforts in Poland damaged
the long term friendly inclination of George of Poděbrad towards him.
Jiskra's offer to the King of Poland brought the danger that the
application of hereditary rights, through the relationship with the
Habsburgs, could also relate to Bohemia. Mathias was clear about why
Jiskra had gone to Poland, and immediately appointed Sebastian of
Rozhanovce instead of Jiskra, as chief captain in Upper Hungary, that is
Slovakia, and entrusted him with the struggle against the "bratríci"
and other armed groups.
attack on the "bratríci" - in the battle near Blatný Potok
on 21st May 1458, Axamit fell with about 600 "bratríci",
stopped for a conspiracy against Mathias. He also uncompromisingly took
action against his own grand father. The surprised conspirators, who
feared the king's revenge, elected Friedrich III King of Hungary on 17th
February 1459. Friedrich accepted his election and could be crowned with
the true Hungarian crown in the presence of Hungarian magnates.
Confusion broke out in Hungary. For Mathias the liberation started, when
the King of Poland abandoned his prepared invasion of Hungary.
The King of Bohemia had confidence in the marriage of his daughter
Catharine to Corvinus, and Jiskra was to be paid a certain amount of
money. In addition, there was no place for him and his soldiers in the
country. Jiskra did not give up. Bitter battles started in Spiš and Šariš,
as Jiskra's men and the "bratríci" fought for their survival,
bringing reinforcements from Poland. The most extensive chronicle of
15th century Hungary, compiled in the second half of the 1470s and the
1480s by John, from a Turiec family, records that the Czechs, Poles and
Slovaks committed violence in Upper Hungary.
the end of April and beginning of May 1462, John Jiskra handed over all
the castles he had under his control. After his return from Friedrich
III in Austria, Jiskra vainly attempted to rally his military forces,
which had suffered a series of defeats in his absence. The court
historian and Italian humanist, Antonio Bonfini, wrote in his work
"On the History of Hungary" that Jiskra sent Mathias a letter,
in which he wrote that from the beginning he had fought against the
Hungarians because of loyalty to the heir to the throne. He widened his
power in the country because the King of Poland invaded it, and so he
also soon joined with bands of plunderers. He had to overlook much, so
that they would obey him. This was the only way he could defeat the
Poles, Mathias' father who also betrayed his own supporters, and keep
the territory he had conquered. Since King Ladislav was already dead,
and God had raised Mathias from the dungeon to the King's throne, it
would not be reasonable or human to give up his lands.
Jiskra wrote the letter or not, it is certain that Mathias accepted
Jiskra into his service. He granted Jiskra the castle of Solymos in the
County of Arad and the castle of Lippa in the County of Temesvár, and
25,000 ducats. Jiskra was raised to the rank of baron, and received
Judith, daughter of the palatine, Orság, as his wife. After this the
sources about Jiskra are very limited. The letters of Corvinus and John
Vitéz from Zredna, before 16th February 1465 elected by the Chapter of
Esztergom to the vacant archbishopric of Esztergom, frequently mention
the pledge and wish of John Jiskra to fight the Turks. Jiskra's
properties were in the south of the country, so he had to stay there
most of the time. He may have passed through Slovakia in 1465, when the
king went to Banská Bystrica via Zvolen. In December 1467, he fought in
the king's army against Stephen III the Great Vojevode of Moldavia. In
January 1467, Jiskra negotiated with Sultan Mehmed II of Turkey about a
three year peace. In May, he reported to Mathias at Třebíčov in
Moravia about his visit to the sultan. On 22nd October 1468, before the
chapter in Arad, Jiskra advanced property to the former hetman from Šariš,
Mathias Lord of Kňežice, his wife Barbara and daughter Catharine. A
royal document from 6th February 1471, in which Jiskra was mentioned as
deceased, confirmed the holding of the property of Borzlik with 30
villages for 1,000 ducats by Mathias of Kňežice.
is well known that in Jiskra's time, no war was fought in Central or
Eastern Europe, without the participation of Czech soldiers in larger or
smaller numbers. Some of them had the opportunity to acquire property
and high titles abroad. Many of them attempted to gain independent
lordships. The names and deeds of these condotieri brought them honour
and shame, evoking fear and hatred in countries other than that from
which they came.
places of issue of the documents from Jiskra's office show that Jiskra's
most frequent places of residence were Košice, where he probably had a
luxury home, and the castles of Šariš and Zvolen. Jiskra's office
travelling with him from place to place was well developed and mainly
concerned with administrative and economic matters. The documents and
charters were mostly written on paper and closed with a seal. The
surviving documents are most frequently in German, followed by Latin and
Czech. They record that Jiskra received a new royal tax of 900 ducats,
paid by Košice. Prešov and the County of Šariš paid the treasury
tax. In Slovakia, apart from the taxes from the Košice and Kremnica
mints, Jiskra received the thirtieth from Bardejov, Prešov and
apparently also Bratislava and Levoča, and the toll collected from Drieňovo.
These relatively high receipts were used by Jiskra to maintain his
castles and towns, pay mercenaries, staff and others down to the lowest
general developmental trend in medieval Europe, where around the middle
of the 15th century, monarchies began to arise, headed not by members of
the numerous European dynasties, but by members of aristocratic families
of each country, had the greatest impact on the destiny of John Jiskra
of Brandýs. It happened when the male line of a ruling dynasty died
out, and the last king did not leave an unmarried sister, when there was
a strong activization especially of the lower nobility with a strong
national feeling, and when a magnate with a leading position in terms of
politics and property and with the support especially of the lesser
nobility, could become a candidate for the throne. After the Swedish
marshal, Karl Knutsson, Mathias son of John Hunyady became this type of
European monarch. Jiskra from his youth committed to military service as
a mercenary, eventually gained the rank of a Hungarian magnate, but he
achieved his most influential position in Slovakia and in the Kingdom of
Hungary, in the period up to the recognition of Ladislav the Posthumous
as King of Hungary. After the death of the young king, he only defended
his own ambitions and rights. The fact that the core of his army was
formed by former Hussite soldiers may have evoked distrust in some parts
of Hungarian society, but this does not appear to have been justified.
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