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Laski, Hieronymus Jaroslaw

LASKI, HIERONYMUS JAROSLAW (1496-1542), Polish diplomatist, nephew of Archbishop Laski, was successively palatine of Inowroclaw and of Sieradia. His first important mission was to Paris in 1524, ostensibly to contract an anti-Turkish league with the French king, but really to bring about a matrimonial alliance between the dauphin, afterwards Henry II., and the daughter of King Sigismund I., a project which failed through no fault of Laski's. The collapse of the Hungarian monarchy at Mohacs (1526) first opened up a wider career to Laski's adventurous activity. Contrary to the wishes of his own sovereign, Sigismund I., whose pro- Austrian policy he detested, Laski entered the service of John Zapolya, the Magyar competitor for the Hungarian throne, thereby seriously compromising Poland both with the emperor and the pope. Zapolya despatched him on an embassy to Paris, Copenhagen and Munich for help, but on his return he found his patron a refugee in Transylvania, whither he had retired after his defeat by the German king Ferdinand I. at Tokay in 1527. In his extremity Zapolya placed himself under the protection of the sultan, Laski being sent to Constantinople as his intermediary. On his way thither he was attacked and robbed of everything, including his credentials and the rich presents without which no negotiations were deemed possible at the Porte. But Laski was nothing if not audacious. Proceeding on his way to the Turkish capital empty-handed, he nevertheless succeeded in gaming the confidence of Gritti, the favourite of the grand vizier, and ultimately persuaded the sultan to befriend Zapolya and to proclaim him king of Hungary. He went still further, and without the slightest authority for his action concluded a ten years' truce between his old master King Sigismund of Poland and the Porte. He then returned to Hungary at the head of 10,000 men, with whose aid he enabled Zapolya to re-establish his position and defeat Ferdinand at Saros-Patak. He was rewarded with the countship of Zips and the governor-generalship of Transylvania. But his influence excited the jealousy of the Magyars, and Zapolya was persuaded to imprison him. On being released by the interposition of the Polish grand hetman, Tarnowski, he became the most violent opponent of Zapolya. Shortly after his return to Poland, Laski died suddenly at Cracow, probably poisoned by one of his innumerable enemies.

See Alexander Hirschberg, Hieronymus Laski (Pol.) (Lemberg, 1888).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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