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At the borderline of two empires

The Hungarian Kingdom, which incorporated the whole territory of the Carpathian Basin, was the most significant state in Central Europe in the 15th century. Distinguished dynasties, such as the Luxemburgs, the Habsburgs and the Jagellos, who saw the chance to make Hungary the center of a great empire, competed for the throne. But all their plans failed as the Hungarian ruler had a very significant rival in the Osman dynasty. After the defeat at Nándorfehérvár in 1521 the armed forces of the Osman empire managed to destroy the borderline defense system of the Hungarian Kingdom within a few years' time. Consequently the defeat at Mohács in 1526 was inevitable. The country lost its southern territories, its ruler and political-military leaders. At the same time, however, Chief Prince Ferdinand, who ruled the neighbouring Austrian provinces and represented the other great empire, the Habsburg empire, came to Hungary's aid - primarily to defend his own territories. So Hungary soon became the battlefield of the two great empires of the age.

The Habsburgs' road to the Hungarian Crown

The rise of the Habsburgs, who originated from Switzerland, was closely tied to the history of the Hungarian Kingdom. Their first emperor, Rudolph I (1273-1291), was helped by King Ladislaus the Cuman (1272-1290) to conquer the Austrian provinces, when in 1278, in the battle of Morvamező he supported Rudolph against the Czech king, Ottocar (1253-1278). By the 15th century, however, the neighbour had become a rival, then, by the next century a world empire. Owing to their successful marriage policy, the Habsburgs incorporated Burgundy, Spain and the Kingdom of Naples, and from the reign of Albert II - emperor and Hungarian king (1437-1439) - they filled the position of the German-Holy Roman emperor until 1805. From this time on their main aim was to obtain the Hungarian throne. Friedrich III (1440-1493), then his son, emperor Maximiliam I (1493-1506) did not succeed, although they had signed several treaties with the Hungarian rulers (1563, 1491, 1506) in order to acknowledge their right to inherit the Hungarian crown. These were followed by a marriage contract in 1515, according to which Ferdinand Habsburg married Louis II (1516-1526)'s sister, Anna Jagello, and the Hungarian king married Maria Habsburg. After Louis II's death in 1526 Ferdinand was easily able to occupy the Hungarian throne.

The road of the Turkish empire to Hungary

The Osman-Turkish principality was formed at the end of the 13th century in the north-western part of Asia Minor (Anatolia). Osman (?-1326), who gained respect for both the dynasty and the empire, and his successors expanded at a rapid pace, so by the end of the 14th century they had occupied the Balkan peninsula and the majority of the states of Asia Minor. They reached the Hungarian border at around 1390. The crusades, which were organised to push them back (1396: Nicapole, 1444 Várna...etc.) were all unsuccessful. However, they were halted for a brief period by Timur Lenk (1402: Ankara). Sultan Mehmed II conquered Constantinople (Byzantium) in 1453, then he defeated the sea power of the age, Venice in a protracted war, and he also reorganised his own state according to despotic principles. His grandson, Selim I expanded the territory of the empire to cover Syria and Egypt. In 1520, when Suleiman I mounted the throne, the territory of the Osman empire was over 1,5 million square kilometres (in contrast, the territory of the Hungarian Kingdom was only 300,000 square kilometres only) and the population was about 12-13 million (while that of Hungary was only 3-3,2 million). His annual revenues were around 12-13 million Forints (while the Hungarian kings had only 250,000-300,000 Forints). His army was stronger than the united armed forces of Europe, and his fleet was able to break the monopoly of Venice, so he could take control of the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea and the Black Sea.

Turkish political goals and military campaigns in Hungary

It was sultan Mehmed II who launched the programme of reestablishing the Roman empire, that is occupying Christian Europe, but it had to be put off due to internal and external reasons. Only Suleiman could start it, whose main aim was to incorporate Hungary so that he could use the country as his base to attack the German-Holy Roman Empire. In 1521 he conquered Nándorfehérvár, the 'core' of the country, then on 29 August, 1526 he defeated the main army of the Hungarian Kingdom on the battlefield of Mohács. After Ferdinand was chosen to be the Hungarian king, he did not continue the occupation of the country, but started to siege Vienna in 1529. His attack, however, was unsuccessful, similarly to his campaign in 1532. Suleiman could not conquer Europe, and even the occupation of Hungary seemed to be a difficult task for him. So in the 1530s he supported János Szapolyai to be Hungarian king, but then after Szapolyai's death occupied some of his territories. Later he and his successors continuously expanded in Hungary and tried to attack Vienna, but could not effect any major changes.

Half a decade of chaos after Mohács: two kings in one country

After the defeat at Mohács the Hungarian orders chose two kings one after the other: first the majority of the noblility chose János Szapolyai (1526-1540), who was one of the most highly respected lords of the country, then a smaller group chose Ferdinand Habsburg, Czech king and Austrian chief prince (1526-1564). The next 15 years were characterised by armed struggles of the two kings, that is a civil war. Although there were two rulers in the country, the events were controlled by a third person, Emperor Suleiman (1520-1564). With his campaign against Vienna in 1529 he forced King Szapolyai to enter into an alliance, while with his Kőszeg expedition in 1532 he let the Habsburgs know that he considered them an enemy. Meanwhile the population of the country had to chose which king to support. It was a very difficult task however, since neither of the nominees had enough power to attain their goals. As a result of this there were several treasons and changes in the parties, that is there was complete chaos and a state of crisis in the country.

The country is finally divided into three parts

The two kings could not subdue one another, so they finally signed a secret treaty at Várad on 24 February, 1538, in which Szapolyai claimed that after his death his territories would be inherited by his rival. The efforts to unite the country all failed. After King Szapolyai's death in 1540 Ferdinand twice tried to occupy the capital city, Buda (1540, 1541), but did not succeed. Sultan Suleiman did not want to unite the country at all, on the contrary, he wanted to split the country. After his triumphs in Persia he sought to finalise the situation in Hungary, so he occupied Buda on the 15th anniversary of the battle of Mohács, on 29 August, 1541. So the medieval Hungarian Kingdom, which had been heading for disintegration since 1526, was now divided into three parts (Royal Hungary, Turkish Hungary and the Transylavanian principality) and remained so for the next 150 years.

György Fráter as governor (1542-1551)

In 1541 Queen Isabella, János Szapolyai's widower, and her son, János Zsigmond (János II) escaped from Buda to Lippa and they were accompanied by brother György Utyesenich (by his mother's name Martinuzzi), a Paulian monk, and an outstanding politician of the age. György Fráter took an oath at János I's death bed to protect the interests of his children, then he moved the royal court to Gyulafehérvár in Transylvania. He governed Transylvania and the neighbouring territories in the name of the queen till his death in 1551. Besides being a governor, he was the treasurer, from 1544 the chief judge and bishop of Várad. György Fráter tried to maintain good relationship with the Turks, but he realised that uniting the three parts of the country could be carried out only under the reign of the Habsburgs. He believed that King Ferdinand I would be supported by his emperor brother in the war against the Turks, and in such a way Hungary could be saved. However, Ferdinand had him murdered during the night of 17 December, 1551 in the castle of Alvinc because of his suspicious relationship with the Turks.

Fortress wars in Hungary

In 1542 King Ferdinand tried to reoccupy Buda with the help of troops financed from German emperial benefits, but his campaign was a total failure. As a result of this the Habsburg ruler was forced to follow a defensive policy, as the Turks wanted to reach Vienna after occupying Hungary. With this the age of fortress wars started, which lasted until 1566. The plains of the country were taken over by the Turks, but at the same time the Habsburgs established a strong border defence line. Meanwhile in Transylvania an independent principality was formed under the reign of János Zsigmond (1540-1571). By occupying Esztergom, Székesfehérvár, Pécs, then Vác and Hatvan the Turks expanded the territory of their Buda vilayet, then in 1552 they formed their second province after conquering Temesvár and the west of the region beyond the river Tisza. In the meanwhile, however, they occupied the fortresses of Veszprém and Palota for a short period of time. Only the heroic warriors of Eger were able to stop them. In 1554 the fortress of Fülek surrendered, too, which became the northernmost base and administrational center of the Turks. In 1566 two essential royal fortresses, Szigetvár and Gyula were also taken by the Turkish oppressors.

Ferdinand's reign in Transylvania (1552-1556)

According to the deal signed by György Fráter at Nyírbátor in 1549 in the name of Queen Isabella Transylvania and the nearby castle districts in the region beyond the river Tisza, which adjoined it, fell into the hands of King Ferdinand. The Queen and his son were given an annuity and two principalities in Silesia (Oppeln and Ratibor) as recompense. General Castaldo and his army of 6-7,000 marched into Transylvania in the summer of 1551 and they conquered the country in the name of King Ferdinand. The king appointed two voivodes: István Dobó and Ferenc Kendy. The occupation of Transylvania by the Habsburgs was retorted. Sultan Suleiman launched another campaign against Hungary in 1552, during which the Turks occupied the region between the rivers Maros and Tisza, and the fortresses of Temesvár and Szolnok. Ferdinand I could not defend his newly acquired eastern territories, and Transylvania could not support Castaldo's unpaid soldiers. In 1553 General Castaldo escaped back to his home and by that time the Transylvanian orders also realised that they should accept the sovereignty of the ruler appointed by the sultan from the Szapolyai dynasty to maintain peace. In 1556 they brought Queen Isabella and her son, Zsigmond János back to govern Transylvania.

The return of Isabella and Zsigmond János

In November 1556 the Transylvanian orders took an oath at the meeting of the parliament to be loyal to Queen Isabella and chosen king Zsigmond János, who had returned from Poland. The Queen governed the country in association with the government appointed to help her till her death in 1559. The most important achievement of her reign was a reform in the chancellery, which was carried out by her counselor, Mihály Csáky, who was with her in her exile. Csáky organised the chancellery, which took over control of the government of the principality, according to late medieval patterns. The chancellery worked as the only tool of government under the direct control of the principals during the existence of the principality. State administration started with this, and after a short transitional period Transylvania - together with the castle districts beyond the river Tisza, which joined the principality - functioned as an independent state.

The stronghold of Christianity: the establishment of the borderline defense system against the Turks

While the Osman troops were continuing to occupy the central part of the country after 1541, Ferdinand I's military leaders started to establish a new borderline defense system. In Vienna they realised that they had to bring the enemy to a half within the territory of Hungary, outside the borderline of the permanent Austrian provinces - no matter how much it cost. Although this battlefield was a great sacrifice from the Hungarian population, it was the only way to save the country. The defense system, called propugnaculum Christianitis in Hungary, was finally organised by the Viennese Royal Military Council in the 1570s. The 100-120 border fortresses were divided into six border headquarters (Croatia, Slavonia, Kanizsa, Győr, Bányavidék and Upper Hungary). The most significant fortresses were fortified according to the plans of Italian military architects, and in Komárom a sloop fleet was set up to defend the river Danube. More than 60% of the 20,000-22,000 soldiers' pay was financed by foreign provinces which ensured their defense within the territory of Hungary.

The Turkish border fortress system

After occupying the capital city it took the Turks at least another three decades to establish a border defense system, which closed the borders of the empire guaranteeing safety for Buda and the military road along the Danube. This system consisted of several fortresses, the number of which depended on luck in military actions (100-130). By the turn of the 16-17th centuries a multi-layer fortress network had been formed; the main defense was based on a couple of huge fortresses (Buda-Pest, Esztergom, Temesvár, then in the 17th century Kanizsa, Eger, Várad and Érsekújvár - the majority of them were centers of provinces as well), and there were 1000-2000 quards in them. Besides these big fortresses the borderline was defended by a chain of smaller fortresses (Szigetvár, Palota, Fülek, Hatvan) with an army of 400-500 soldiers. Behind them there was the second line of defense with fortresses and 100-300 soldiers in each, and the third line of defense consisted of fortified rims with 50-100 people in each. In the Turkish border fortresses there were 18,000-19,000 soldiers. Among the guards there were units of horseman (gönüllü, faris, martaloc) and infantry (yanichar, müstahfiz, azab, topchi) and supplementary units. Along the major rivers there were independent sloop fleets under the commadership of captains (kapudans). The total sum paid to these soldiers was more than all the revenues of the Hungarian province, and in the 17th century soldiers' pay was financed from taxes directed from the Balkans.

The difficulties facing the government of Royal Hungary

From the 1540s the Hungarian orders several times requested that King Ferdinand should finance the border fortresses from the revenues of his foreign provinces, however, they could not accept the consequences. The Turkish subsidies, which were needed for the survival of the country, had a very big price: those who gave money for their defense, wanted to take part in the decisions made in connection with this issue, even if they were domestic issues in Hungary. Owing to this fact by the 1560s the Hungarian orders were totally ousted from controlling the three main branches of state administration: from military, foreign and financial affairs. From this time on these issues were directed from Vienna till 1848. However, the Hungarian nobility played an important role in the local administration of border fortresses, and in the fields of domestic policy, justice and the privileges of orders they did not tolerate the interference of the court.

Military revolution in Hungary

The revolutionary changes in European military affairs, which took place from the first half of the 16th century, played a very important role in the successful border defense in Hungary. A fundamental change was the spread of firearms. This required totally new designs in fortress architecture, then it brought about a significant increase in the number of soldiers in the army. Owing to this fact tactics and strategies also changed. All these had a great impact on the development of state and financial administration, natural and military science and economy. As the Osmans could not keep up with European development, the Christians gained military superiority on the Hungarian battlefield - thanks to small arms. However, this was not enough to drive the Turks out of the country.

Turkish military forces in Hungary

The Osman-Turkish military command could base their actions on fortress soldiers, fleets on rivers and the army of horseman (spahis). These spahis were given service estates in return for their work, and they were obliged to set up a little army, where the number of armed men was in proportion to their income. Those who broke this rule or refused to fight, lost their estates. Spahis were responsible to the sandjak begh whose sandjak comprised their estates. The deputy of the sandjak begh was called alaj begh, and the officers under their command were the subashis and cheribasis. In battle Spahis were equipped with metal helmets, coats of mail, arm and leg mail, spears and bows. Their number (together with their armed escorts) was around 7,000-9,000 in Hungary in the 16th century. In the 17th century the importance of the spahi army was less significant, and there is no data on their numbers.

"Years of peace in war" throughout a quarter of a century (1568-1591)

Two years after Miklós Zrínyi's heroic struggle at Szigetvár in 1566, emperor Maximiliam II (1566-1576) and sultan Selim II (1566-1574) made peace in Drinaple, which brought peace for a quarter of a century in Hungary. There were no major campaigns in the country till 1591, but the continuous plundering of Hungarian and Turkish border fortress watches to the territory of the enemy made everyday life difficult. These attacks caused only temporary problems for the population. Indeed, this peaceful period during the Turkish occupation encouraged a limited economic boom. But these years of peace were not advantageous for border defense, since the sorely needed foreign financial aid did not arrive too often. This is why Hungary started a long war against the Turks with a rather old and outdated border fortress system.

The Speyer contract

In 1559 the 19-year old János Zsigmond Szapolyai who was chosen to be king at his birth, became the ruler in Transylvania. The most important theological disputes of the Reformation took place during his reign (1559-1571), and even Zsigmond János himself came to know unitarism, originating from Lutheran thoughts, following the theological instructions of Ferenc Dávid and Doctor Blandrata. In the meanwhile he was constantly at war with the Habsburgs over the territories of Upper Hungary, but by 1562 he had lost the regions of Szatmár, Tokaj and Kassa. In the same year he exacted bloody revenge on the Székely revolt, he deprived the Székelys of their old privileges. At the end of his reign, in August, 1570 he managed to sign the Speyer treaty with Hungarian King, Maximiliam Habsburg I. It was the first international diplomatic agreement, in which Transylvania - with the territories annexed to it (known as Partium) - was referred to as an independent state. According to this agreement Zsigmond János could bear the title Principal of Transylvania, but not for long, as a few days after the ratification of the treaty by the Regensburg parliament in March 1571, he died.

Principal of Transylvania: István Báthori (1571-1586)

After Zsigmond János's death (1571) the orders of Transylvania, disregarding the Speyer treaty, chose István Báthori from Somlyó as their ruler. At first Báthori called himself voivode - showing that he accepted the treaty - but later, when he was chosen Polish king (1575), he started to use the title principal. In summer of 1575 he triumphed over Gáspár Bekes (who was a pretender supported by the Habsburgs) in the battle of Kerelőszentpál. In the next year he removed his residence to Krakow and appointed his elder brother, Kristóf, to the head of Transylvania to rule in his name as a voivode. He tried to govern Transylvania from Poland, so he set up a Transylvanian chancellery there, too, but he was unable to keep in contact with the Transylvanian nobles. In 1583, after his brother's death, he appointed his own son, Zsigmond Báthori, to his place, who was assisted by a governing council of three. The members of his council were chosen from among the humanist "Padovians". The principal - as Polish king - was engaged in organising an anti-Turkish eastern coalition (1582) and he tired to gain the support of the papacy. His unexpected death in 1586 put an end to his plans.

Transylvania and the Porte

Turkish political leaders considered the state of Transylvania to be their vassal state, and this fact had a strong influence on the relationship between Transylvania and the Porte. In contrast to Rumanian voivode districts, Transylvania was much freer. To express the acknowledgement of her dependence on the Porte), Transylvania paid 10,000 Forints of tax from 1542, which was increased to 20,000 at the end of the 16th century, and to 40,000 during the reign of Principal Mihály Apafi (1660-1690), but the Turkish system of taxation was not introduced here at all. It was a tradition that the principals chosen by the Transylvanian orders could mount their thrones only after the arrival of the ahdname, the official appointment, and the emblems of principality. In contrast to this, in Moldavia and Havasalföld (High Alps) voivodes were appointed by the Porte from among loyal candidates. The Principal of Transylvania was free to deal with domestic matters, but in regard to foreign affairs he could not act against the interests of the Porte. However, during the reign of strict rulers, the country could pursue an independent foreign policy. These political acts were either revenged later, or forgotten by Turkish political leaders. Whereas in Rumanian voivode districts both domestic and foreign affairs were directed according to the economic-political interests of the Porta.

The crisis of the Turkish empire

By the end of the 1580s the Osman-Turkish empire had suffered a general crisis. Earlier the strongly centralised government exercised total control over economy and society, but now they could not solve the serious problems caused by natural catastrophes, the growth of the population, the crisis in agriculture, difficulties in supply, the influence of inflation in the international economy (price revolution), social movements (provincial revolts) and military revolts. The balance of the state economy was broken, as a result of the costs of the long Persian war (1568-1590) and the reorganisation of the army (the increase in the number of yanichars and their firearm equipment) were too high. The Turkish province in Hungary was in crisis as well. In the "years of peace in war" the Turkish army stationed in Hungary grew slack: due to the loose discipline and lack of money the soldiers deserted their posts. Public security and profitability were in decline because of the attacks of Hungarian fortress soldiers. Although the treasury of the state was empty, in 1593 the Osman leaders decided on another war against Hungary (under the influence of Hungarian and Bosnian military lobbies) to avoid the loss of their military positions in Hungary and to get rid of their mercenary soldiers from Istambul, who were constantly revolting.

The fifteen-year long war: the first modern war of Hungary (1591-1606)

From 1591 there were big battles between the Habsburgs and the Osman empire in the territory of Croatia, then after the Christian victory at Sziszek in June 1593, then two years later at the border of Transylvania. The fifteen-year long, or long Turkish war was the first modern war of Hungary, in which serious weapons were used. Thanks to the military revolution, Christian troops were in an advantageous situation, but the first period of the war (1591-1596) brought Turkish success. In 1592 they occupied the core of the Croatian border defense system, Bihács, in 1593 they conquered Veszprém and Palota, then in 1594 the fortress of Győr, which defended Vienna and Austria. Two years later in the battle of Mezőkeresztes, which was the first open battle after Mohács, sultan Mehmed III (1595-1603), himself, took part in the fighting, and defeated the Christian army, ensuring the occupation of the fortress of Eger, which had been taken two weeks before. Only Miklós Pálffy's 1593-1594 winter campaign could blunt the success of the Turkish army by taking back several fortresses in county Nógrád.

In the second period of the war (1597-1606) it was difficult to decide which army had performed the best. Both parties had victories and took some important fortresses (the Christian army 1598: Győr, 1601: Székesfehérvár; the Turkish army 1600: Kanizsa, 1602: Székesfehérvár). However, continuous fighting proved only one thing: neither of the parties could win. Advantages of the Christian army in military technology was balanced by the well-organised reserves of the Osmans and their advantage in number. The replacement and logistics of the Christian troops were still based on the financial aid offered by orders of the Habsburg countries, which made the Christian army rather inefficient. When the war turned into the Bocskai revolt in 1604, both parties welcomed the 1606 Zsitvatorok peace, as the long war destroyed large tracts of the country and exhausted the treasuries of both empires.

Zsigmond Báthori (1588-1602) and the war at the end of the century

The 16-year old Zsigmond of the Báthori family took over the principality in 1588. He had an unstable nervous system and he had numerous personal problems. In 1593 he joined the 15-year war and owing to his military success he reclaimed several border fortresses for Transylvania. In the meanwhile he was at constant war with the orders of his country, many of whom did not support his war at all. However, his uncle - his chief political advisor and an outstanding military commander -, István Bocskai was in favour of the war. In the 1595 Prague treaty Zsigmond Báthori acknowledged the superiority of Hungarian king, Rudolf Habsburg over Transylvania. Imperial General Giorgio Basta and Havasalföld voivode Mihály Vitéz arrived for the takeover of power in 1599. But Mihály Vitéz wanted the principality for himself, so general Basta quickly had him murdered. Zsigmond Báthori was refused the throne several times, then returned to Transylvania, and then for the fourth time in 1602 he finally left the country and spent the rest of his life in Rudolf's court in Prague. The raids and cruelty of General Basta's mercenary soldiers destroyed the population in Transylvania, while famine and plague also killed a lot of people. The carriage of Basta became a notion in the region, and by 1604 Transylvania was already dying.

The crisis of the Transylvanian principality

During the military and political events of the fifteen year war it was impossible for the Transylvanian principality to survive. In the struggle between the Osman and Habsburg empires there was an opportunity for the Habsburgs to gain the upper hand and conquer the eastern part of the country, including Transylvania. The imperial forces could not keep up with the Turkish military force, so there was a balance of power, which created the political conditions for Transylvania to become an independent state in the middle of the 16th century. General Basta marched out of Transylvania in 1604, the Habsburgs could not settle here permanently. The orders of Transylvania took the necessary measures to be able to survive: they joined Bocskai's movement, and in the autumn of 1604 they chose the aristocrat as their principal. Sultan Ahemed I's official appointment also arrived, in which the politician Gábor Bethlen played a very significant role. The Vienna peace, which put an end to the Bocskai movement, resettled the Transylvanian principality, and Bocskai acquired the counties Szatmár, Bereg and Ugocsa and the fortress of Tokaj.

The influence of the Turkish-Persian relationship on Hungary

The Osman-Persian peace made in 1590 was preserved until 1603. During this time Persia's young and talented ruler, Shah Abbas (1587-1629) reorganised the military affairs of the country. Instead of a temporary army he set up a permanent one, following Osman example. Within this army he set up artillery and firearm divisions (he was aware of the importance of firearms), and the total number of the soldiers here was over 20,000. In 1599 he sent ministers to western Christian principals, asking for their support for an alliance and an anti-Osman war. Although this alliance did not come into being, he took the advantage of the situation (in which the Osmans were exhausted and bound to Hungary) and launched an attack against the eastern borders of the Turks in 1603. He forced the Osmans to withdraw their forces from Hungary. This war lasted till 1639 - with short breaks - and was significant in that the court of the sultan started to negotiate peace with the Hungarian king. In the following decades the sultan enthusiastically sought to maintain peace with Hungary.

István Bocskai's revolt: the opening of a series of conflicts of the Hungarian orders

The revolt in 1604, led by István Bocskai - who lead the movement of the Upper-Hungarian orders - was the culmination of the Habsburg-Hungarian conflicts. The dissatisfaction of the orders was caused by the fiscal lawsuits against aristocrats who had been loyal to the Habsburgs earlier and the court's violations of law and anti-Reformation persuits. After chief captain Giacomo Belgiojoso gave back the St Elisabeth church of Kassa to the Catholics at the beginning of 1604 using military force, armed conflict was unavoidable. Bocskai soon occupied the whole kingdom with the help of the hajdus, who came over from the imperial army. Owing to his success he was chosen principal first by the Transylvanian, then by the Hungarian orders in the first half of 1605. His anti-Habsburg efforts soon made him enter into an alliance with the Turks, who did not refuse Emperor Rudolf II (1576-1612)'s peace offer in November 1605. The armed struggles between the Hungarian orders and the Viennese court was stopped by a Viennese peace treaty made in June 1606 by István Illésházy.

The principality of Zsigmond Rákóczi (1607-1608) and Gábor Báthori (1608-1613)

In his will, Bocskai appointed Bálint Drugeth Homonnai as his successor, but Gábor Báthori also had the chance to be chosen principal. In 1607, however, the Transylvanian orders voted for Zsigmond Rákóczi, the old, experienced soldier. Gábor Báthori gained the support of the Porta, persuaded the hajdus (who were in an insecure position and threatened with losing their privileges after Bocskai's death) to join him, and made Rákóczi abdicate in 1608. During his short reign, Gábor Bethlen turned the Transylvanian orders against himself. He took over the center of the Saxons, Nagyszeben, and made their cities cover the costs of his and his court's entertainment. In 1610 he had the Hungarian lords who joined a conspiracy against him beheaded. He attacked the Havasalföld for no reason, and he also almost entered into a war with Moldavia. In 1613 he made a promise to let the Habsburg troops march into Transylvania, but he could not do so, because the Porta had enough of his chaotic policy, too and appointed a new principal to the head of Transylvania.

Consolidating orders

The Vienna peace, then the 1608 parliament (which enacted it) brought significant changes in the relationship of the court and the Hungarian orders. The ruler promised to keep Hungarian law, freedom of worship and to give the most important offices to Hungarians. From 1608 on the office of the palatine - which was not held for half a century - was again filled. Besides these the Habsburg rulers were obliged to acknowledge the independence of Transylvania. The orders realised that they could benefit from the fact that the country was divided: the Transylvanian state, which was a vassal of the Turks, was a winning card for them to defend their rights against the interests of the court. In spite of the fact that the orders became stronger, the control of military, foreign and financial affairs remained the privilege of Viennese central offices.

Hungary in the Thirty Years' war

A new European conflict, the Thirty Years' war (1618-1648) started with the revolt of the Czech orders in May 1618 in Prague. This movement, which was initiated by religious offences, soon became a pan-European series of conflicts, in which the Habsburgs and their major rival, France fought for European hegemony. Hungary - defending the Habsburg empire from the Turks - could not be left out of the confrontation despite the fact that the Military Court Council was in favour of maintaining peace on the Hungarian battlefield for more than 50 years. In contrast with the peaceful period in the 16th century the territory of the country was a battlefield again - in spite of the alliance with the Turks. The Transylvanian principals' troops (mainly light cavalry), first those of Gábor Bethlen (1613-1624), then those of György Rákóczi I (1630-1648) destroyed the country, followed by regular imperial armies, which pushed them back. In the meanwhile, Hungarian border fortress warriors, who were on field duty, died in the German empire for their Habsburg rulers who actually lost the war from the political aspect.

The great principal: Gábor Bethlen (1613-1629)

Gábor Bethlen was appointed principal at the Porte. The Transylvanian orders chose him in 1613 "in fear, but free" as they followed him to Transylvania with a Turkish-Tartar army of 80,000 behind them. In the first years of his reign he made peace with the Saxonians, reconciled with the old Hungarian dignitaries, and promised the Székelys that they could keep their privileges, and with these he managed to attain internal support. In 1606 the Porte obliged him to hand over the fortress of Lippa, but as the warriors in the fortress did not want to give up, he himself fought in the battle and handed the fortress over to the Turks. He gained the trust and continuous support of the Porte through this action, and thus he gained greater independence to carry out his goals. He gradually managed to stabilise his central, absolutistic power. He excluded parliament from power, and called the meeting of Transylvanian lords ever less frequently and in smaller and smaller numbers. He made his decisions in important matters alone and strictly controlled the financial, military and political affairs of the country.

Bethlen in the Thirty Years' war

In 1619 Bethlen joined the anti-Habsburg revolt of the Czech orders with his army of 18,000. He did not miss the chance to unite Transylvania with Royal Hungary. Marching through Upper Hungary he gained the support of the Hungarian orders, conquering Érsekújvár and Pozsony. The Besztercebánya parliament chose him Hungarian king in 1620, but he did not want to be crowned. After the defeat of the Czechs at Fehérhegy at the end of 1620 his earlier supporters, the Royal Hungarian orders, turned against him. They were frightened by Bethlen's strict policy and a possible Turkish protectorate, which could have been established under his reign. Owing to his victories in 1621, he signed the Nicolsburg peace treaty at the end of the year, which expanded the territory of Transylvania. After this he launched a military campaign against Royal Hungary twice (1623-24, 1626), but the Hungarian lords did not support him any more. It's to Bethlen's credit that Transylvania was able to join the community of European Protestant states, which considered this small state a significant military and political force during the Thirty Years' war.

Principal György Rákóczi I (1630-1648)

After Bethlen's death his second wife, Katharine of Brandenburg ruled the country for a while (1629-1630). The principal appointed her as his successor in his will. However, the Transylvanian orders were rather hostile to her and soon forced her to abdicate. György Rákóczi I became the principal of Transylvania, and his reign brought calm, peaceful and fruitful time. In 1631 he made an agreement with Hungarian King, Ferdinand II to maintain peace. He increased his private estates as well as those of the treasury. He defeated his inner opponents in lawsuits of possession and confiscation of property. In 1643 - after a long wait - he joined the Swedish-French alliance and entered the Thirty Years' war in the defense of free religion. In 1644 he occupied Kassa, but after the Swedish allies could not support him because of an attack by Denmark he suffered a defeat at Galgóca and had to give up the whole of Northern Hungary (Felvidék). In December 1645 he signed the Linz peace treaty with Ferdinand III, according to which seven Hungarian counties were annexed to the territory of Transylvania. At the same time the treaty guaranteed for the Hungarian orders the maintenance of the 1606 Vienna peace.

Military-like net of settlements

After 1606 there was another peaceful period of about 50 years on the Hungarian battlefield of the Habsburg empire. Thus the Military Council - which sought to maintain peace at any cost - decreased the number of soldiers from 20-22,000 to 16-17,000 so that they could spend the saved soldiers' pay on the Thirty Years' war. Yet during the peaceful years Turkish attacks were quite the norm and the campaigns of Transylvanian principals turned the country into a battlefield several times. The population of the front line was forced into self-defense as those 5-6,000 dismissed border fortress soldiers had to be replaced somehow. The solution to this problem was to militarise the settlements along the border. Market towns were surrounded by fortification, the churches of the villages were used as watch-towers, while the civil population took on military duties for nearby landlords in return for certain privileges. Besides the population of the front line settlements, important landlords joined the fight against Turkish plunderers with their private armies.

The difficulties of controlling the surrendered territories in the 17th century

The major economic and political crisis at the end of the 16th century changed the relationship of the center and the provinces. While earlier the sultan's court made all decisions, in the 17th century it passed more and more things over to local authorities. The most important changes took place in the field of finance: several taxes were introduced, while regular sandjak registrations and payments granted on the basis of these were stopped, instead of which the owners of certain offices (such as fortress soldiers) themselves took over the collection their due incomes. As the center gave up control of the timár-system, redistributing the estates, a significant number of these became inheritable. Because of the decline of the spahi army the military and administrative role of sandjaks and vilayets was continuously decreasing. The begler beghs were able to set up their private armies from their bigger incomes even in times of inflation. With these private armies they were able to support the state more efficiently in foreign wars, maintaining public security and collecting state taxes. This is the explanation of the fact that in the second half of the 17th century the Turks organised vilayets without sandjaks in the conquered Hungarian lands. Besides the ones in Buda and Temesvár they set up new ones in Eger (1596), Kanizsa (1600), Várad (1660) and Újvár (1663).

The Osman-Turkish state before and during the Köprülüs

In the first half of the 17th century the power of sultans decreased. The costly Hungarian, Persian, Polish and Cretan wars had exhausted the treasury. The unpaid soldiers, impoverished spahis and rajas were collected by revolting pashas, who took control of whole provinces in Anatolia and Syria. There was a complete chaos in governing. Instead of the padishah, who had previously been omnipotent, the women of the harem and their allies, the yanichar chief officers made the decisions. Chief commanders were replaced quite frequently and it was impossible to put an end to the repeated revolts of the yanichars. In June 1656 the Sultan Mother appointed Mehmed Köprülü (around 1575-1661) as chief commander, who was in his eighties at that time. A period of cruel terror (according to barely believable estimates he had 30,000 people killed in the first year of his reign alone), economising and a battle against corruption started. The organising work of the powerful chief commander's son made the state an active empire again. His son, Ahmed Körpülü (1635-1676), who ruled between 1661-1676, continued his father's policy, although with less cruel methods. The Osman troops launched their attacks against Venice, Hungary, Poland and Russia, one after the other.

György Rákóczi II, the loser of peace (1648-1660)

György Rákóczi II was already brought up as a principal by his parents, but his unreasonable and irresponsible measures almost destroyed the country. He tightened his relationship with the Rumanian voivode districts; he entered some wars of power on the side of new voivodes several times, when in 1655 Moldavia became the vassal state of Transylvania. In 1656 he formed an alliance with the Swedish king, Charles X to divide Poland and his plan was also supported by two Rumanian principals and a Cossack hetman, Hmelnitski. He was interested in a possible western European anti-Habsburg alliance, too, while at the same time he was trying to find Hungarian supporters. His younger brother, Zsigmond, had connections with Pál Pálffy and Miklós Zrínyi from Royal Hungary, who wanted to chose György Rákóczi as the new king. Without the permission of the Porta he launched an attack against Poland in 1657 with an army of 15,000. His Swedish ally promised that György could gain the Polish crown but he soon let down the people of Transylvania, who suffered several defeats. At that time the main Transylvanian army fell into the hands of the Tartars at Kalmenice. Rákóczi was able to escape with about 300 people leaving his soldiers behind. He left for his home, Transylvania.

Transylvania - on the edge of destruction

In 1657 the whole Transylvanian army was captured by the Crimean Tartars. Although he promised to do so, Rákóczi did not offer to bail out his soldiers from imprisonment at his own expense. A letter arrived from the Porte in which he was asked to abdicate. Even though the orders chose Ferenc Rhédey as principal (1657), Rákóczi did not abdicate. In 1658 Mehmed Köprülü, the new chief commander flew into a rage and came to teach his vassal state a lesson. The Turkish-Tartar troops occupied Gyulafehérvár, Torda, Kolozsvár and the whole of Transylvania. At that time the Transylvanian parliament chose Ákos Bacsai as principal (1658-1660), who had an agreement with the Turks; he gave up Lugos and Karánsebes and accepted that the annual tax of the country would be increased to 40,000 Forints; nevertheless he managed to have Köprülü's troops leave the country. In 1659 a civil war broke out between the followers of Rákóczi and Barcsai, and János Kemény, who in the meanwhile returned home from Tartar imprisonment, also declared his claims for the throne. Pasha of Buda, Ahmed Sejdi also joined this fight. In 1660 he triumphed over Rákóczi at Szászfenes, who died in his injuries gained in this battle. But the campaign of revenge against Transylvania was not yet finished. Under the leadership of Pasha Ali in August 1660 the Turks occupied St Ladislaus's town, the gate and the biggest fortress of Transylvania, Várad.

A new Turkish war after half a century of peace (1663-1664)

After a long period of peace Turkish troops attacked Royal Hungary again in 1663. The reason for the armed conflict was that György Rákóczi, Transylvanian principal (1648-1660) launched a military campaign against Poland without permission (1657). The revenge of the Turks was the occupation of Várad in 1660, and the response from the Military Council was to send troops to the principality. The armed fight of the two empires had been unavoidable sooner or later. The army led by chief commander, Ahmed Köprülü, captured another very important fortress in 1663 (Érsekújvár). At the beginning of 1663, however, the Hungarian-Croatian-German troops commanded by Miklós Zrínyi and count Julius Hohenlohe won a victory over the "eternal enemy" after half a century of failure. In the winter campaign they took back several smaller fortresses as they pushed forward deeply into the conquered territories, then their actions were followed by the burning down of the bridge of Eszék. Although the chief commander's counter-attack freed the fortress of Kanizsa, which was under siege by the Christians, and he took over Új-Zrínyivár, on 1st August he suffered a defeat at Szentgotthárd at the hands of the imperial forces led by Raimundo Montecuccoli. As a result of these victories Europe again turned attention to the Hungarian battlefield.

Searching for the way out: the Wesselényi plot

In spite of Christian success the Vasvár peace, which was more favourable for the Turks, was received with great dissatisfaction. The Hungarian lords could hardly accept that in spite of the victory at Szentgotthárd the Viennese court agreed to the fact that the losing party could keep its conquered towns, Várad and Érsekújvár. They looked for an ally: first at Lipot I's main rival, the French king, Louis XIV (1643-1715), then in the autumn of 1666 at the Turks, under the leadership of palatine Ferenc Wesselényi. For guaranteeing the privileges of the orders and the free choice of worship they were ready to accept a 10-50,000 golden Forints annual tax and the sovereignty of the sultan. This would have meant the birth of a Turkish vassal state, similar to Transylvania, although this one would have been in a better position. But the plot failed while it was still just a plan, similarly to Peter Zrínyi's and Ferenc Rákóczi's relevant movements in 1670. Zrínyi, Ferenc Frangepán, Ferenc Nádasdy and Ferenc Bónis were executed. Vienna took advantage of the chance to control the rights of the orders and free choice of worship with the tool of absolutism.

Searching for the way out: the movement of the hiders and Imre Thököly's kingdom

The revenge on Hungary did not bring the desired results for Vienna. The Gubernium had to be distributed soon, the taxation system failed because of the resistance of the nobility and villeins, and the fact that Protestant preachers were sent to be gally-slaves increased the tension. Organising the border fortress soldiers into a regular body, that is as permanent units took place at the worst possible time. The people who escaped to Transylvania and the Partium organised armed actions as a reply to the Viennese measure from 1672 on. Their movement almost failed when in 1678 a new commander, Imre Thököly was appointed. the Kuruc leader's military success forced king Lipot I (1657-1705) to make an agreement with the orders at the 1681 Sopron parliament. In 1682 Thököly occupied Kassa with the support of the Pasha of Buda, then in return for a 20,000 golden Forints tax he acknowledged the sovereignty of the Porte. In the territory of Hungary a new state came into being for a short time: Imre Thököly's northern Hungarian principality (1682-1685), which was also a Turkish vassal state.

Turkish orientation in Hungarian politics in the 16-17th centuries

Hungarian politicians firmly refused any kind of cooperation with the Turks till 1526. But the defeat at Mohács changed the universal anti-Turkish feelings and the forces gathering around King János Szapolyai believed that accepting dependence on the Turks would save the country from disintegration. The occupation of Buda in 1541 demolished this illusion. By the 1570s, however, another "Turkish" conception was worked out, which was put into practice by the 17th century fights of the orders: the Hungarian nobility objected to Habsburg centralisation and counter-reformation, acquiring support from the Transylvanian principality (and actually the Turks). Meanwhile they did not even think of a complete surrender to the Osman empire as everybody knew it would bring about the downfall of the country. but there was no other choice left, since Hungary did not take advantage of the "prosperity" of the 1660s and the aggressiveness of the Viennese government. Turkish orientation was the strongest during the Thököly revolt, when the country was divided into four parts (not just three) and when the countries of Europe united against the Turks. So in the 1683 war the majority of Hungarians were on the side of their "ancient enemy".

Mihály Apafi's principality (1661-1690)

During his short reign, János Kemény (1661-1662) hoped for and sought Lipot I's support in the struggle against the Turks. But Lipot I let him down: they chose Mihály Apafi as their ruler (1661), who was appointed by the Transylvanians and the Porte. Kemény died in January 1662, in battle with the Turks, who supported Apafi. Apafi had a very difficult task, but he did his best: he stabilised the government of the country successfully, showed loyalty towards the Porte, while searching for connections with the group of orders led by Zrínyi and Miklós Wesselényi. The Vasvár peace, which put an end to the 1663-1664 Turkish campaign, had a part which concerned Transylvania: Turkish sovereignty was acknowledged and Várad was left in the hands of the Turks. In the 1660-170s Apafi tried to preserve the independence of Transylvania both at the Porte and in Vienna. In the meanwhile he intended to form links with western Protestant countries. In 1667 he made an anti-Habsburg alliance with French king, Louis XIV. In 1684 the Saint League was formed, which liberated Hungary, and at that time Apafi tried to bring Transylvania into the Polish-French sphere of interest and save the independence of the principality for the future, when the Turks would leave the region.

The war of reoccupation against the Turks

In 1683 chief commander Mustapha Kara was the last one to lead the army of the Osman empire against the imperial town after the Polish-Russian wars. The unsuccessful campaign against Vienna and the victory of the imperial-Polish army at Kahlenberg was the overture of a new war in Hungary. In spring 1684 under the protection of Pope Ince XI (1676-1689) the Saint League was formed, which united the military-financial resources of Central European states against the Turks. This union was a great success until 1689. In the first phase of the war (1683-1686) the imperial army recaptured the fortresses of Esztergom, Érsekújvár, Szolnok and finally the previous capital of the country: Buda (1686). The second phase of the war (1686-1689) brought new victories, and the capture of Belgrade (1688). However, the increasing power of the Habsburgs was against the interest of the great western rival, the French king, Louis XIV, who withdrew from the armistice in the autumn of 1688, which had been signed four years earlier, and launched an attack against the province of Pfalz. From this time on the Habsburg empire was forced into a war on two fronts.

In spite of the difficult situation of the empire the Osman army was not strong enough to fight back in the third, longer phase of the war (1689-1697). Although they managed to take over Belgrade in 1690, in the following years strategically important Hungarian fortresses, which were under blockade (Kanizsa, Várad, Gyula), were occupied by the Christian army one after the other. The 1697 victory at Zenta brought the end of the war closer. After the peace of Karlóca in 1699 the country was liberated, with the exception of the Temesköz. The success of the Christian army was attributed to the formation of the alliance against the Turks, the establishment of the permanent imperial army and the development of military technology and logistics. Owing to these facts the imperial army was able to supply bigger military units in several battlefields and prove its military advantage and finally defeat the still powerful "eternal enemy". As a consequence of the annual march of the big armies and their ravaging of certain territories of the liberated country both the population and the net of settlements were destroyed forever.

The fall of the Transylvanian principality

The war of liberation reached Transylvania in 1687. The troops of chief commander Charles of Lotharingia marched into the principality and the Balázsfalva treaty was signed, according to which Transylvania would supply the chief commander's soldiers with food and fodder, in return he guaranteed the independence of Transylvania. Vienna, however, did not accept this agreement and sent General Antonio Caraffa to Transylvania, who made the local orders sign the Fogaras declaration in 1688. In this document the people of Transylvania accepted the sovereignty of the Crown and they agreed that imperial soldiers would be sent to Transylvanian fortresses and were obliged to pay a 700,000 Forints annual tax. Not long after this Mihály Apafi, who foresaw the fall of the country, died in 1690. The Porta appointed Imre Thököly principal, who managed to defeat imperial General Donatus Heissler in 1690 in a difficult battle at Zernyest, near the Tölcsvár pass. After his triumph the Transylvanian orders chose him as principal, too. The imperial forces led by Lajos Badeni soon forced Thököly out of Transylvania, to which he never returned. From this time on Transylvania unquestionably came under the rule of the Habsburgs.

The Diploma Leopoldinum

The new situation of Transylvania in the Habsburg empire was regulated by the diploma issued by Lipot I in 1690, which was later modified and accepted in 1691. The text was compiled by a group led by Miklós Bethlen, who was sent to Vienna from Transylvania. This document settled civil government in Transylvania by establishing a council of government, a Gebernium, the residence of which was in Nagyszeben. The governor was György Bánffy, his chancellor was Miklós Bethlen , the treasurer was János Haller and the general-in-chief was Gergely Bethlen. Lipot I guaranteed the keeping of Transylvanian laws and free choice of worship and set the annual tax at 100,000 golden Forints. The Diploma considered Transylvania an independent province and part of the Hungarian Crown, annexed to the empire. The Transylvanian people were to have Mihály Apafi II's principality acknowledged, but after the reoccupation of Várad (1692) they had him interned to Vienna, then he made him abdicate from the title principal (1701).

Plans for reorganising the country

After the recapture of Buda in 1686 the most important question was how to reorganise the country peacefully. The goals aimed for the Hungarian orders and the court were quite different. The orders wanted to regain their earlier leading role within the new circumstances. According to the suggestion of Archbishop Lipot Kollonich, who represented the interests of the Viennese court, the positions at the court in military, foreign and financial affairs attained during the 16-17th centuries should not have been limited at all. Vienna seemed to be stronger. Although they could not prevent reorganising the castle district system, they set up the Neoacquistica Commissio, with the help of which they were able to influence the development of different regions in the country according to their own interests. Moreover, in the southern border region the Military Council established a border-watch system with the cooperation of the Serbs who had fled to Hungary, which guaranteed the defense of Hungary and the Habsburg empire against the Osmans for a long time.

The consequences of Turkish reign

During the 16-17th centuries Hungary was one of the most important battlefields in the conflict between the Christian and the Muslim world. The constant warfare between the Habsburg and the Osman empires, and 150 years of foreign occupation inflicted a lot of damage to the country in terms of human life, means of production and material possessions. The irreversible damage was the most significant in demography and ethnography. The increase of the population in the early modern age had not missed Hungary, but it was reversed by long periods of war, first of all the 15-year war and the war of reoccupation against the Turks. As the troops and raiders pushed forward along river valleys, damage was the greatest in these areas, and the Hungarian population there was replaced by Serb, Croatian, Slovakian and Rumanian people. As a result of this by the end of the 17th century the ethnic map of the country became similar to the one at the beginning of the 20th century, before Trianon.

There was a major damage to the net of settlements, towns and monasteries. In certain conquered areas more than half of the population had been killed, while almost all the monasteries - medieval centers of knowledge and education - were pulled down. The hierarchical order of the net of towns was also broken, since three previous regional centers (Buda, Szeged and Pécs) had become Turkish fortresses, and their populations had fled. Thus the basis of economy became market towns, which prospered in cattle trade. This shows what kind of damage the Turkish reign had inflicted in earlier economic relations. That is agriculture remained the main branch of industry, and in the fields of industrialisation and the development in bourgeois mentality Hungary's backwardness compared to more developed European territories was further increasing. In spite of these facts Hungary, which was divided into three parts, was able to preserve its independence and status as a state. Owing to the border defense system financed by Habsburg provinces the Hungarian Kingdom was able to avoid Turkish occupation and the sad consequences of that. The countries south of Hungary on the Balkans had to suffer a lot because of the Osman occupation.


Viennese central offices

The central governing of the countries of the Habsburg empire was the responsibility of Viennese central offices. The most important one was the Secret Council (Geheimer Rat), where the emperor's counselors discussed the most essential domestic and foreign matters concerning the empire. Another advisory board with more members was the Court Council (Hofrat), which became less important in the 17th century, and its activity was limited to justice. The control of economic life and financial matters of the empire was the duty of the Court Chamber (Hofkammer), which also controlled the chambers of other countries. Decisions, the orders and measures of the emperor was written down by the Court Chancellery (hofkanzlei). Certain divisions of the chancellery became independent in the 17h century. In 1556 the Court Military Council (Hofkriegsrat) was formed to organise the defense system against Turkish attacks and control military affairs, and its authority spread over to the whole empire.

Ferdinand I's reform of the government: the governor's council

When in 1526 Ferdinand Habsburg became Hungarian king, it meant that a part of Hungary joined a more developed empire as far as the methods of government were concerned. Consequently these methods were also introduced in Hungary, and leaving medieval methods of governing behind, now modern organs of government were formed. King Ferdinand's first step was to set up a governing body to lead the country - as he himself kept his residence outside the country - and function as a central organ of government. The governor's council was formed in the 1540s during Archbishop of Esztergom, Pál Várady's governorship, and its members were lords and prelates who were also members of the emperor's Hungarian Council. The governor had similar rights as the palatine, but he did not have any power in financial and military affairs. From the end of the 16th century the office of the governor was associated with the office of the palatine, and as an independent office it lost its significance, since the advisory board of counselors did not function and satisfy Ferdinand's demands. In the following centuries palatines bore the title of governor as well.

The organs of central finance: the chambers

The Hungarian Chamber was founded in 1528 by King Ferdinand I to control finance centrally. This chamber fled from Buda to Pozsony and started to function there in 1531. The task of the chamber was to supervise and administer the total income of the treasury as a body of government (incorporating a board of advisors) in the countries of the Hungarian Crown. It had to concentrate on regaining the estates taken from the Crown, to supervise and administer the collection of taxes, regal incomes including thirtieth customs duties. The Hungarian Chamber was officially responsible to the king alone, but actually it came under the authority of the Court Chamber. With the residence of Kassa the Szepes Chamber was set up in 1567 for Northern Hungary, which was far away from Pozsony but significant from the point of view of economics. The Szepes Chamber was under the authority of the Pozsony Chamber but in reality it was quite independent. In the eastern regions of the country the Szepes Chamber conducted not only financial affairs but also other administrative and military duties.

The Hungarian Council and the Hungarian Chancellery

Besides the governor's council, which functioned as a government, the Hungarian Council became the successor of the medieval royal council advising the Habsburg rulers. The members of this council were appointed by the king. In the 17th century the number of advisors was increasing, whereas their role and influence was decreasing. The Hungarian Council had meetings unsystematically during the sessions of parliament, when the lords were together anyway, and could not really reach unanimous decisions. The kings did not listen to these Hungarian advisors, so the orders at the meetings of the parliament always complained about the fact that in Hungarian matters the king should decide with the help of Hungarian advisors. King Ferdinand and later Habsburg rulers neglected the Hungarian Chancellery in the same way. Although it was formally functioning under the leadership of the Archbishop of Esztergom in power, who was the chief chancellor as well, but in practice one of the departments of the Court Chancellery gave the orders, letters of command and measures in the name of the Hungarian king.

Supreme jurisdiction

There were changes in supreme jurisdiction after the defeat at Mohács. The king's personal judgement was stopped, thus the significance of supreme court jurisdiction decreased. At the High Court of Justice the king was replaced by a person, who became the president of the Royal Board. The practice of palatine jurisdiction did not change, and its importance increased at the end of the 17th century, later turning into the Board of Seven. The civil lawsuits of the nobility and priests were able to appeal to the supreme court. The cases of disloyalty towards the king and the Crown were discussed at the meetings of parliament. The courts of the Supreme Court functioned in the 40-day law sessions in spring and autumn. Because of wars and marches this kind of jurisdiction could barely function, so other, not always legal forms of jurisdiction became popular. One of these was the appearance of travelling judging masters of senior judges: they travelled from town to town and passed judgements in the cases of people who turned to them.

Smaller forms of jurisdiction

In market towns and villages the judge of the settlement could pass sentences in cases of smaller importance, in other cases it was the authority of the landlord, that is inhabitants had to turn to the lord's chair. These chairs were quite popular in the 16-17th centuries, the presidents of which were not the landlords themselves, but another invited aristocrat. The members of the chairs were the landlord's employees and office holders invited from other castle districts. In civil, socage and criminal lawsuits the landlord's chair had unlimited authority, without the chance of appeal. In special cases - usually treason or disloyalty - the king in power sent a special court. Such a court passed sentences upon the Hungarian aristocrats, for example István Illésházy and István Bocskai before the Bocskai movement, when the sentence was made before, without the chance of appeal. In Transylvanian Saxon and Székely chairs kings made judgements together with chosen chair judges, then in the 16-17th centuries Transylvanian principals sent royal judges, who represented the interests of royal power.

Local governments: castle districts

During the 16-17th centuries castle districts became more and more powerful as the central government could not interfere with their inner affairs except for collecting tax. The most important forum of local noblemen was the noblemen's meeting, where decisions were reached in public matters and administration. Parliament ministers and the most influential office holders were chosen here: the vice ispán (vice bailiff), magistrates and members of the jury. The chief ispán (bailiff) of the castle district did not usually stay in his castle district. At these castle district meetings regulations and statutes were compiled which regulated life in the given district. The most significant juristic organ of the castle district was the castle district court, and one could apply to the royal supreme court in civil lawsuits. At the castle district court the chairman was the vice ispán, members of the jury took part in passing the sentence. Keeping written records, the minutes of meetings, and composing letters were the clerk's duty, who was usually a learned man with a good command of the Latin language.

Privileged areas, peasant castle districts

The people living in the region of Jász-kun were organised into chairs, the central organ of their local government was the unity of Jász-s and Kuns. The main authority and chief judge had been the palatine since 1485. This area fell into the hands of the Turks in the 16-17th centuries, but certain parts were annexed to Hungarian border fortresses. The hajdú district contained the settlements of hajdús, who were settled there after the Bocskai movement. Their main authority was the king, in the name of whom the captain-in-chief of Hungary took his orders. Some of the hajdú settlements became towns, which kept their independence, others joined the county system as villages. In the Great Plain peasant castle districts were formed in the 17th century, as self-defense organisations of neighbouring villages. Their goal was to defend themselves from criminals. They had their own meetings, where lieutenants and leaders were elected. The zapises in Northern Hungary - self-defense organisations of noblemen - were set up with the same aim.

National honours

There were no central bodies of government of the Hungarian orders in the 16-17th centuries, but they individually took part in the work of government organisations and their interests were represented by the leading dignitaries of the country. The deputy of the king was the palatine, the first honour of the orders since the Middle Ages. The responsibilities of the palatine were defined in the 1486 palatine acts: he substituted the ruler in his absence, and had the power to judge, he was the chief commander of the armies of the country after the king, and could give away estates as large as 32 villein lands, and he was the chief judge of the Jasz and Kun people. From 1608 the parliament elected the palatine from among two Catholic and two Protestant aristocratic candidates. The judge royal's duty was to take part in the work of the supreme court as one of the chief judges. The role of the honour of the Croatian-Slavonian ban was limited, in this period their main duty was to judge. The 'master tabernacules' and 'master personales' were judges at court of appeals in towns.

Free royal towns

The most significant Hungarian towns were the free royal towns. These were walled towns and they came under the direct authority of the king, from whom they got their privileges. Part of these privileges included autonomous local government, others were economical privileges. These latter ones were important, they paid tax to the treasury in a lump sum, they had staple right and were exempted from paying customs duty. There were two big groups of towns in Hungary: towns which applied the Buda laws, which were 'civitas tabernacules' and they could appeal from their own court to the chair of the 'master tabernacules' (for example, Buda, Pest, Nagyszombat, Pozsony, Sopron, Kassa, Bártfa and Eperjes); and towns which applied the Székesfehérvár laws, which were 'civitas personales', they could appeal to the chair of the 'master personales' (for example, Székesfehérvár, Esztergom, Lőcse). Free royal towns represented themselves at the meetings of parliament through their ministers. Thus the number of privileged towns increased in the 17th century, although the orders tended to prevent the king from presenting privileges to market towns.

Mining towns

Another significant group of towns were the mining towns, which were located in mountaneous areas containing ores. Miners had already received privileges from the king during the Middle Ages, and had their own special laws. From 1466 Lower Hungarian mining towns near the river Garam formed their own group with the center of Körmöcbánya. They lived according to the Selmec laws. The towns in this group were Besztercebánya, Selmecbánya, Libetbánya, Bakabánya, Újbánya. Their alliance lasted till 1863. Northern Hungarian mining towns were unified in 1487 to administer their mining matters and lawsuits jointly. (Their center was Gölnicbánya, but Szomolnokbánya, Rudabánya, Jászó, Telkibánya, Rozsnyóbánya and Igló also belonged here.) Their unity was broken by the end of the 16th century, when towns fell under the authority of landlords. There were outstanding mining town sin Szatmár as well, such as Nagybánya, Felsőbánya and Kapnikbánya, which were later annexed to Transylvania. In the Transylvanian mountains the most significant towns were Abrudbánya, Offenbánya, Kisbánya and Zalatna, where gold was to be found.

The government of the Transylvanian principality

The methods of the government of the Transylvanian principality were quite similar to those of the medieval Hungarian Kingdom. Besides the principal there was the principal's council, but the members of the council had the right only to form an opinion, and the principal was not obliged to accept this. Laws were compiled at special meetings of parliament, where the principal's interests dominated. The only executive board of the principality was the chancellery founded in 1556 by Mihály Csáky along medieval patterns. The bigger chancellery was responsible for foreign and domestic matters, that is it gave orders and instructions in the name of the principal, whereas the smaller chancellery was in charge of writing down the sentences passed at the principal's court and administering juristic matters outside lawsuits. Besides these the affairs in higher government were dealt with chief office holders, who were the familiares of the principal (for example, the chief tax collector supervised the collection of taxes and tithe rents, the captain-in-chief was the military leader of Transylvanian troops after the principal).

Local governments of the Transylvanian principality: the chairs

Chairs were organs of local government similar to castle districts, which had juristic and administrative functions. In Transylvania the Saxon land or Royal land were divided into chairs, which derived their names from the central town (Szeben, Szászsebes, Segesvár, Medgyes, Újegyház, Szerdahely, Szászváros, Nagysink, Kőhalom). Besides the chairs Saxon people lived in the district of Brasso and Beszterce. At the head of the Saxon unity was the count since the public juristic unity of the Saxons was formed in 1486. The post of the count was filled in by the mayor of the most important town, Nagyszeben. The Székelys also lived in chair districts, their center was Udvarhelyszék (the others were Aranyosszék, Marosszék, Csíkszék, Sepsiszék, Kézdiszék and Orbaiszék; the last three were called Háromszék [Threechairs] from the 17th century). At the head of the Székelys there was the Székely ispán (bailiff), the honour of which was held by Transylvanian principals in the 16-17th centuries.

The government of the Turkish province

There were three main responsibilities of Turkish public administration in Hungary: 1. serving the army; 2. collecting tax and administering estates; 3. juristic service. The administration, military organisation and finance of the conquered regions in the 16th century were primarily based on the net of sandjaks, in Arabic livas. The population was registered according to sandjaks and so were the production capacity calculated, taxes imposed and service estates, the timars, distributed. At the head of the sandjak was the sandjak begh (mir-i liva), who was the commander of the landowner spahis in the province, but he was also responsible for civil administration, public order and economic life. He had to report to the begler begh (mir-i miran), who supervised the highest organisational unit of the province, the vilayet, which incorporated the sandjaks. Vilayets were also called begler begh's districts. Till the 15-year war there were two vilayet in the territory of Hungary: the Buda vilayet (1541), containing 15 sandjaks along the rivers Danube and Drava, and the Temesvár sandjak (1552), with 6 sandjaks. From among the two begler beghs the Buda one was in a higher position. The owners of these honours received the office of the commander from 1623 on. The owners of important honours often changed; in the 16th century a begler begh could spend one and a half, a sandjak begh two years in their positions on average.

The financial matters and administration of the estates of the Turkish provinces were controlled by the defterdars in the vilayet centers. The sandjaks made different listings (defters) from time to time. The so-called 'detailed defter' contained the provincial law books recording the regulations of taxation (kanunname), the register and list of tax-payers of the population of towns and villages and the calculated revenues of the state and private landlords (for example, the sum of the jizye, the product tithes, rent fees, customs duties and incomes of mills and fish ponds... etc.) The so-called 'comprehensive' or 'timar-defter' registered those landowners who had some of the incomes mentioned in the detailed defter. The most prosperous settlements and the main sources of cash belonged the direct authority of the treasury (in the form of imperial has estates), others were in the possession of office holders and soldiers as has-, timar- or ziamet estates. Soldiers' pay and the number of fortress watches were recorded every quarter in the soldiers' pay lists.

The key figure of Turkish public administration, the kadhi, was originally a judge. But in the Osman empire he became the main figure of state organisation, appointed by the emperor's council. Although the borders of juristic districts (kazas) and sandjaks were almost the same in Hungary, the number of kadhi districts outnumbered those of the sandjaks: there being about 50 of them. In his own district the kadhi passed sentences in the cases of family and criminal law according to Muslim religious law (in principle quite independently). Besides these he had numerous administrative duties: he accredited financial invoices, he collected the so-called extraordinary taxes; supervised the mobilisation of the army, and was responsible for organising food delivery; he also supervised the work of foundations and guilds, together with the market inspector he set and checked the prices and the markets; registered estates and took steps in cases of bequest; he was the local ears and eyes of the central government, that is he regularly reported to the Porta on public feelings and the acts of dignitaries. As the Hungarian population avoided Turkish courts, the kadhis here dealt o only with military and financial matters.


The leading strata of the country: landowner aristocrats

The political, military and financial leading strata of Hungary in the Turkish age was the group of aristocrats. Members of this group were those noblemen who were invited to meetings of parliament through a special invitation card from the king. Barons, counts and dukes, who inherited their titles thanks to the Habsburg rulers' donations, were also included in the group. These people and the prelates of the country were called tycoons. The most important honours of the orders (for example, the office of the palatine, royal judge) and military offices (captains-in-chief) were held by them. This meant that they were in control of the domestic and juristic matters of the country, but they also played an important role in the local conduct of military and financial matters. The basis of their power was their possessions in the form of estates, cash and jewelry. They usually increased their possessions by successful marriages and their connections or they could receive further donations from rulers for their services. They did not have a close ties with the Austrian-German aristocracy, and actually they preferred to stay in their own castles to staying in the court of the Habsburg kings in Vienna. Those who made a great career were usually educated at the court or had close connections with it (e.g., Tamás Nádasdy, Miklós Pálffy, Miklós and Pál Eszterházy).

The diversity of common noblemen

Although each and every noble person had the same privileges in Hungary in the Turkish age, common noblemen were separated from the aristocracy. Common noblemen were not homogenous. The richest common noblemen were landowners - the majority of them owning one or more villages - who were often in the service of a big landowner aristocrat as his familiare. They formed the leading strata of politicians in the castle districts, who participated in the work of parliament through their representatives in the house of commons. Besides the smaller landowners there were those who lived like villeins, indeed, they had to pay tax (taksa) to the landlord and the ruler. Their noble origins were proved by their letter of nobility (armalis). Conflicts with the Turks offered a chance to a lot of border fortress soldiers to join the group of noblemen as acknowledgement of their services. From the 17th century on, however, rich peasants could achieve - with the mediation of their landlords - membership of the nobility with the help of their money. They took all possible advantage of this situation.

The birth of a new social group along the border: border fortress soldiers

Due to Turkish occupation a new group was formed in Hungarian society by the second half of the 16th century: the group of border fortress soldiers. They were also called "warrior people / order" at that time. The independence of those 20,000 soldiers, who were on permanent duty along the border was the result of the privileges (exemption from paying tax and the juristic authority of the landlord, independent military jurisdiction, freedom of worship) which had previously been the exclusive privilege of the nobility. Since the people of the 'warrior order' were villeins and small landowners who lost their properties, their officers were common noblemen, their leaders were aristocrats, thus joining this group was the best opportunity to work one's way up. Owing to the fact that the dominant part of the border defense army was light cavalry, their way of life was quite different from that of the permanent army formed at the end of the 17th century. The border defense army made a perfect job until its liquidation. Because of their privileges and components it was a transitional strata in Hungarian society between the nobility and villeins - although closer to the nobility.

Hajdús and peasant soldiers in Hungary in the 17th century

After the 15-year war the number of hajdús increased significantly compared to previous centuries. Originally they were cowherds, but in this period this social group had several sub-groups. Royal or registered hajdús served in border fortresses receiving their pays from the ruler. The free hajdús served there too, but their pay was the goods they received in the course of plunders. If it was not enough, they attacked villeins. Those 10,000 hajdús who had been settled by Bocskai in old hajdú towns in 1605-1606 with collective privileges formed a separate group. In the counties of Szabolcs and Bihar along the rivers Sajó and Hernád Principals Bocskai's successors continued settling hajdús, while in Transdanubia and Northern Hungary powerful landowners (the Batthyánys, the Eszterházys, the Nádasdys) gave different privileges to their hajdús. The Zrínyi family's peasant soldiers in the Muraköz received similar privileges in return for their service. These soldiers lived half a soldier's, half a civil life in their fortified settlements.

Burgers of towns in the shadow of Turkish occupation

Peculiar opportunities of the Turkish occupation and Hungarian economy hindered the development of a bourgeoisie, which in any case was in a handicapped situation. When the country was divided into three parts several royal towns fell under Turkish authority, which further retarded the development of the net of towns. Neither was undeveloped industry was favourable for the enrichment of burgers. The settling of noblemen and soldiers in towns limited their previous positions. In a paradoxical way city burgers found the way to acculminate capital by joining the cattle- and wine trade and wine growing - instead of starting ventures in industry. They did not invest their money in establishing means of manufacturing, but in buying lands and vine-yards, which was also advantageous for their ventures in trade. Despite the negative factors they were able to keep their privileges.

The most numerous social strata: the villeins

Although the Hungarian nobility was the most populous after that of the Polish in Europe, the most numerous social strata of the country was that of the villeins, who did not enjoy any privileges. Similarly to their lords this strata was not homogenous either. Even though there were several experiments to bind them to the soil during the 16-17th centuries, these were not successful. Their freedom of movement was encouraged by the fact that there was a need for new border fortress soldiers and hajdús, and landlords themselves wanted to repopulate their deserted estates. Fleeing villeins could chose either way, they joined a group with privileges, that is they could make their way up. Where the power of the landlord was greater, villeins had to pay a lot of tax and do robot. At the same time rich peasants or the zsellérs who were engaged in animal husbandry, wine-growing, handicraft industry or trade had a higher standard of living than noblemen, moreover, in the 17th century they could even a buy a letter patents of nobility.

Peasants and peasant burgers during the Turkish occupation

After the Turkish occupation more and more village peasants and peasant burgers from market towns joined the prospering cattle husbandry and cattle trade towards the west. The peculiar development of the Hungarian economy in the 16-17th centuries was favourable for those farmers engaged in animal husbandry and tőzsérs. Peasant burgers took advantage of the only chance for economic survival by being tőzsérs, moreover, in the 16th century their activity brought material wealth for towns in occupied areas. Thanks to their wealth, they had an influential role in local administration and local government, since during the Turkish occupation the majority of previous institutions, noble castle districts disappeared because of the fleeing of noblemen, so peasant burgers took over the organisation of local government. Thus they preserved Hungarian legal customs and communal morals. In this way it was easy to revive them after the Turks had left the country.

The relationship of the Hungarian state and the Hungarians in occupied areas: alliance with the Turks

As time passed the state and castle district organisations of Royal Hungary had greater and greater influence on the everyday life of the occupied areas. By resetting the right of possession the relationship of the Hungarian authorities and private persons with the Turks was regulated in detail. In 1574, 1575 and 1587 the Hungarian parliament banned voluntary surrender to the Turks. Laws enacted in 1622, 1625 and 1635 prescribed execution and the confiscation of animals for those who formed an alliance with the Turks, or delivered weapons to them, or travelled to occupied areas without the permission of the Hungarian authorities. The 1659 law, par. 13 considered border and possession cases as serious a crime as alliance with the Turks. At the same time in the legal practice of castle districts "Turkish" crimes were quite frequent from the 1630s. In the second half of the 17th century "Turkish" crimes were committed by people who wore Turkish clothes, took up Turkish customs (like smoking), forwarded Turkish letters, often appeared at Turkish fortresses, sold or pawned estates to the Turks, which had previously been in Hungarian hands, or bought / pawned such an estate from a Turk, turned to the Turkish kadhi in cases, which came under Hungarian authority.

The growing number of intellectuals in the mouth of the Turks

Despite the Turkish occupation in the 16-17th century Hungary remained linked to Europe's cultural blood circle. The intellectual strata, the members of which studied at universities in the German empire, Italy, Switzerland or far away Netherlands or Britain, had an important role in this fact. The spread of the Reformation in the 16th century encouraged the formation of famous colleges (Brassó, Debrecen, Sárospatak, Pápa) and hundreds of village schools besides the use of the Hungarian language. In the coming century the counter-reformation had its impact on the country: Jesuit grammar schools (Győr, Kassa) and the university of Nagyszombat - founded by Péter Pázmány in 1635 - helped the development of Hungarian intellectuals. As a result of these book printing flourished, literacy spread, and libraries became popular in the circle of noblemen and burgers. Joining the group of intellectuals at Catholic, Protestant or state courts, in the city or at the castle district was a brilliant opportunity for lower social groups to rise.

Three orders - three nations: the Hungarians

As a result of medieval development the structure of the Transylvanian orders was different from those in other parts of Hungary. In Transylvania the notion of order was synonymous with the notion of natio (nation), which did not mean the same as today. The Hungarian people formed an independent order, that is a natio, which included Hungarian noblemen only. The conditions for joining the group of Hungarian noblemen were gaining the noble title and owning a land. So a Hungarian nobleman could stem from any kind of nation, he was the member of the Hungarian order / nation, if he fulfilled the requirements. Transylvanian nobility, as an order, could not really stand up for their interests against the principal. The reason for this could be found in their poverty: on the one hand they possessed much smaller estates than their Hungarian counterparts, so their financial power was also smaller; on the other hand Transylvanian powers hindered the chances of asserting the interests of the orders in jurisdiction and government.

Three orders - three nations: the Székelys

In the history of the order of the Székely people the 16th century brought the final disintegration of medieval Székely society. The formation of strata according to wealth was in process, the three groups of Székely people were formed. Common Székelys became very poor, and this meant that they could barely fullfil military duties. Such poor Székelys went to serve a rich Székely landlord, but they could live a freer life than Transylvanian villeins, since they had a contract with the landlord, and could move freely. Between 1542-1551 György Fráter obliged the Székelys to pay tax in cash, and besides this they had to present their traditional tax, the ox-grilling. The Székelys rebelled against this, there was a revolt in 1562, which was avenged by Zsigmond János, and in his orders. After the revolt he deprived the Székelys of their privileges which they had enjoyed for centuries. Following this Transylvanian principals, who bore the title the Székelys' ispán (bailiff), promised to restore their privileges if they wanted to use the service of the Székely army, which was still very effective. In 1636 György Rákóczi I obliged them to be loyal, when he invalidated jus Regium in the Székely land. Their organisation of chairs - which was formed in the Middle Ages - was still functioning during the principality.

Three orders - three nations: the Saxons

At the head of the government of the Saxon natio was the Saxon count, who had held this position since 1486. This post was usually filled by the mayor of Szeben. The order of Saxon people was the richest nation of Transylvania, because of their rich towns. They preserved their privileges in the age of the principality, too, and thus they were independent in a sense. This independence was encouraged by the national consciousness of the Saxon people which had formed by the end of the 16th century through being loyal to Lutheran religious principles. In 1545, during Bishop Paul Wiener's reign, the Saxon Lutheran church was established. Bigger Saxon towns, like Nagyszeben, Brasso, Beszterce, and the German tradesmen of Kolozsvár - who became Hungarian by the end of the 16th century - broke into western markets with the products of the Saxon goldsmith's industry. This, however, did not bring permanent prosperity and economic growth. The Saxon guild industry kept its medieval organisation, and the establishment of guild unions limited production according to the narrow demands of the local market.

Transylvanian society in the 17th century

The population of the principality at the turn of the 16-17th centuries was about 1 million. After the destruction of the 15-year war the period between 1657-1661 brought another significant devastation and a wave of migration within Transylvania and between Transylvania and the neighbouring Rumanian territories. In the second half of the 17th century the population decreased to 700-800, 000 and 40-50% of the people were Hungarian, 10-15% Saxon and 30-40% Rumanian, partly because of the fact that the Partium fell under the authority of the Turks after the defeat of Várad. Transylvanian aristocracy consisted of a few families only, the members of which were the advisors of the principal or filled other important posts in the government. The institution of eternal main orders was not formed here, so noble families were at the mercy of the principal. In this century middle and small estate owners dominated in Transylvania, bigger estates were usually in the possession of the principal. Although during Apafi's reign a greater number of people became noble, thus the number of noblemen increased within the society, power still remained in the hands of the principal.

Saxon society preserved the independence of its orders, a special Saxon law and order - which was based on medieval privileges - till the middle of the century. In 1651 they lost the right that they were not obliged to appear at the principal's court. At this time another order was taken, according to which non-Saxons could buy houses in Saxon towns, and this broke down Saxon unity. Rumanian people assimilated to the group of villeins in even greater number, and they gained a political influence comparable to that of the principals. In the second half of the century the typical common strata of Transylvanian society was formed: the strata of intellectuals incorporating priests, lawyers, preachers, teachers, doctors and clerks. Many of them received the noble title from Mihály Apafi. Only few of the poor villeins were able to work in salt and ore mines, iron furnaces, glass workshops or mills.

The society of the Turks in Hungary

The number of Turks who settled down in Hungary was around 50-80,000, the majority of them being soldiers and clerks. At the top of the conquerors' society there were the begler beghs, sandjak beghs, their deputies and the kadhis of the vilayet centers. They were followed by the leaders of certain military and civilian units, the defterdars, the alay beghs, the captains of river fleets, the kadhis of sandjaks and the leaders of religious life: the powerful imams and lawyers. Beghs were highly respected. In the 16th century the pashas of Buda received 1 million akches, sandjak beghs received 200-400,000 akches a year on average, which was a big sum of money compared to the 30-70 akches income of the district kadhis (except for the Buda kadhi, who got 500 akche a day). These powerful office holders were often replaced and removed (they were usually removed to other parts of the occupied regions). Time spent in waiting without payment, the maintenance of the escort and bribing money exhausted their cash source, and although they had some supplementary incomes, they did not leave considerable amounts to their successors.

The middle strata of Turkish society in Hungary consisted of two bigger groups. The members of this were tax collectors and common clerks (subashis, voivodes, emins), who could use their direct connections with tax payers to increase their own wealth. On the same level were the educated people who took care of the spiritual needs of Turkish people: teachers of medrese schools, prelates of monasteries, the imams of smaller djamis and mosques. Between the middle and lower strata there were wealthy tradesmen and certain craftsmen and timar-owning spahis, whose service estates brought more money than those of their colleagues serving in the central part of the empire. At the lower end of the social ladder were the masses of fortress soldiers, who lived on 3-10 akches a day. Underpayment forced them to find second jobs (mainly in the 17th century, when their pay lost its value). Most of them tried to open a shop, practiced an industry, traded occasionally, then in the 17th century many of them engaged in farming.

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