Francis Ii Of Translyvania
FRANCIS II OF TRANSLYVANIA., prince of Transylvania (1676-1735), was born at Borsi, Zemplen 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 ultrapatriotic Magyar environment, though the Emperor Leopold I. claimed a share in his tutelage. In 1682 his mother wedded Imre Thokoly, who took no part in the education of Rak6czy, but used him for his political purposes. Unfortunately his stepfather's speculations suffered shipwreck, and Rakoczy 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 aud 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 Rakoczy'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. Rak6czy and a few other patriotic magnates deeply sympathized with the sufferings of the nation, 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 Rakoczyans, who initiated him into all their secrets. Longueval betrayed his trust, and Rak6czy 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 iiulnera indytae 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 Rakoczy 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. n, 1705), he could put 100,000 men in the field. In September 1705 he was also able to hold a diet at Sz6cs6ny, attended by many nobles and some prelates, to settle the government of the country.
Rakoczy, 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 a compromise, and alienated both the emperor's foreign allies and the majority of the Magyar gentry, while from Louis XIV. Rak6czy 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 R4k6czy the French king would not enter, and Laszl6 Vet6si, Rak6czy'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), Rak6czy'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 Romhany (Jan. 22), and a desperate effort to secure the help of Peter the Great also failing, Rak6czy 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 Szatm&r (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 Rodost6, where he died on the 8th of April 1735. His remains were solemnly transferred to Hungary in 1907 at the expense of the state.
See Autobiography of Prince Francis Rdkoczy (Hung.) (Miskolcz, 1903) ; E. Jurkovich, The Liberation Wars of Prince Francis Rdkoczy (Hung.) (Beszterczebanya, 1903); S. Endrodi, Kurucz Notes, 1700- 1720 (Hung.) (Budapest, 1897). (R. N. B.)
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)