CORVINUS, JANOS [John] (1473-1504), illegitimate son of Matthias Hunyadi, king of Hungary, and one Barbara, supposed to be the daughter of a burgess of Breslau. He took his name from the raven (corvus) in his father's escutcheon. Matthias originally intended him for the Church, but on losing all hope of offspring from his consort Queen Beatrice, determined, towards the end of his life, to make the youth his successor on the throne. He loaded him with honours and riches, till he was by far the wealthiest magnate in the land. He publicly declared him his successor, created him a prince with vast apanages in Silesia, made the commandants of all the fortresses in the kingdom take an oath of allegiance to him, and tried to arrange a marriage for him with Bianca Maria Sforza of Milan, a project which was frustrated by the intrigues of Queen Beatrice. Matthias also intended to make the recognition of János as prince royal of Hungary by the emperor Frederick a condition precedent of relinquishing all or part of the conquered hereditary domains of the house of Habsburg; but his sudden death left the matter still pending, and the young prince suddenly found himself alone in the midst of enemies. The inexperienced and irresolute youth speedily became the victim of the most shameful chicanery. He was first induced formally to resign his claims to the throne, on the understanding that he was to be compensated with the crown of Bosnia. He was then persuaded to retire southwards with the royal treasures which Matthias had confided to him, whereupon an army immediately started in pursuit, scattered his forces, and robbed him of everything. Meanwhile the diet had elected Vladislav of Bohemia king (July 15, 1490), to whom János hastened to do homage, in order to save something from the wreck of his fortunes. He was also recognized as prince of Slavonia and duke of Troppau, but compelled to relinquish both titles five years later. On the invasion of Hungary by Maximilian, he shewed his loyalty to the crown by relinquishing into the hands of Vladislav the three important fortresses of Pressburg, Komárom and Tata, which had been entrusted to him by his father. But now, encouraged by his complacency, the chief dignitaries, headed by the palatine Stephen Zapolya, laid claim to nearly all his remaining estates and involved him in a whole series of costly processes. This they could do with perfect impunity, as they had poisoned the mind of the indolent and suspicious king against their victim. In 1496 Corvinus married Beatrice, the daughter of Bernard Frangepán. His prospects now improved, and in 1498 he was created perpetual ban of Croatia and Slavonia. From 1499 to 1502 he successfully defended Bosnia against the Turks, and in the following year aspired to the dignity of palatine, but was defeated by a combination of Queen Beatrice and his other enemies. He died on the 12th of October 1504, leaving one son, Prince Christopher, who died on the 17th of March 1505.
See Gyula Schönherr, János Corvinus Hunyadi (Hung.) (Budapest, 1894).
(R. N. B.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)