Revolt of Francis II Rákóczi

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The uprising of Franz II. Rákóczi (also called the Kuruzenkrieg or freedom struggle of Franz II. Rákóczi ) was 1703 to 1711 the last of a series of anti- Habsburg uprisings (1604–1711) in Royal Hungary (more precisely: in today's Slovakia , today's Northeast Hungary and today's West Carpathian Ukraine ) and in Transylvania and at the same time the last so-called Kuruc uprising .



See : Kuruzen or Slovakia in the early modern period

Immediate causes

In particular, the main causes of the uprising were:

  • There were constant absolutist tendencies of the Habsburgs (e.g. the assembly of estates in 1687).
  • Disputes over property issues arose: a special commission was set up in Vienna in 1688 to regulate property relations after the Turks were driven out of Hungary (successively since 1684) . It worked to the dissatisfaction of the Hungarian nobility: Due to a lack of written ownership documents that could prove ownership of the properties from the pre-Turkish period (around before 1541), many properties fell to the state, which they passed on to Austrians (court nobles, military, civil servants and war suppliers) or given away or sold cheaply to other foreigners.
  • The next point of contention was the taxes : the Turkish wars (beginning of the 16th century - 1699) had left extensive damage, the population stagnated at just 4 million, many lands were completely destroyed and deserted. The Kingdom of Hungary had to raise 400,000 of the 3 million guilders war costs annually . It was said that Royal Hungary would pay the Habsburgs more in two years (1685/86) than the Turks in 100 years. A war tax introduced in 1689 finally had to be forcibly collected by the Austrian military.
  • Another argument to justify the last Kuruc uprising were arbitrary acts, looting and crimes by the imperial army, even if the imperial army was not always responsible and individual cases were therefore punished by the courts. (Note: The Kuruzen acted in a similarly cruel manner and pretended that their deeds were of Habsburg origin). In any case, the soldiers were not barracked , but quartered with peasants and citizens, which has always given them the opportunity to commit wrongdoing.
  • Eventually, the re-Catholicization continued and the distress of the peasants and serfs grew bigger and bigger, as all the burden was unloaded on their shoulders.
  • Since 1701 there was also the argument that the Hungarian peasants were forcibly conscripted into the Habsburg army to fight in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701–1714).


Expansion (1700–1708)

The uprising began in 1700 when the nobleman Francis II Rákóczi contacted Louis XIV of France and asked for support in an uprising against the Habsburgs ( War of the Spanish Succession ). Rákóczi was betrayed and arrested, but was able to flee to Poland from his internment in Wiener Neustadt . On June 16, 1703 he took over the leadership of a rather small uprising that broke out in Carpathian Ukraine (part of the Kingdom of Hungary) (petty aristocrats, heathen , farmers), which then gradually spread to what is now Slovakia and what is now northern Hungary.

The nobles in the northeast of the Kingdom of Hungary, to which the uprising was initially limited, were (at least initially) divided - some, especially in eastern Slovakia, supported Rákóczi, others were against him. The Kuruc had nothing in mind with aristocrats, but Franz II and his family belonged to him himself.

By December 1703 the Kurucs conquered the whole of Slovakia and parts of northern Hungary, but without all the important cities ( Bratislava , Košice , etc.). In 1704 several attacks in Moravia followed . After numerous other battles, Rákóczi already controlled practically all of Slovakia and what is now northern Hungary in 1705. Regarding the territory of Austria , parts of Lower Austria (the area around Vienna), today's Burgenland and eastern Styria were attacked and devastated several times until 1709 during this uprising . Here Sümeg Castle was taken, which could not be recaptured by imperial troops until 1709. To protect the Habsburg capital Vienna, the line wall (course of the belt), a light fortification line, was created in 1704 , and the Kuruzzenschanze was built between the Danube and Lake Neusiedl .

In 1704 Rákóczi was elected Prince of Transylvania , although Transylvania had not been an independent principality for years.

The aim of the uprising propagated in the first state parliament of the territories conquered by Rákóczi in Szécsény in 1705 was the restoration of the estate constitution , the creation of an independent kingdom of Hungary with free elections for kings , in which Transylvania was to remain an independent principality. After Rákóczi had to fight on "his" area in the years 1706-1708 with numerous uprisings against his bad economic policy and despotic rule and after he had lost the Slovak mining towns to the Habsburgs, he tried to save his situation by working on the Third Landtag of Rákóczi in 1708 in Sárospatak declared the peasants involved in the uprising to be free from their landowners. But since there had already been similar declarations on his part, the farmers rightly no longer believed him.

Although Franz II. Rákóczi was not a general, in 1705 he had over 100,000 men and very quickly controlled all of Slovakia and what is now northern Hungary. An essential factor in this success was that in 1703 many officers of the Austrian army who had previously fought against him were added to his troops. B. Alexander Károlyi (ung. Károlyi Sándor ), converted so that he was familiar with modern warfare. On the other hand, however, many of his Kuruz troops were indisciplined, did not work well together and only mastered one type of warfare, which Emmerich Thököly and other streifscharführer had practiced before him, and had a lack of weapons.

In the battle of Zsibó on November 15, 1705, the Hungarian cavalry suffered a defeat, although the Kuruzen had succeeded in intimidating their opponents with a shrill-sounding bowling oboe. This wind instrument, which was then banned by the Habsburgs, was given the nickname Rákóczi-síp and became a symbol of the Hungarian national identity.

Suppression (1708–1711)

But the favorable military situation turned in the spring of 1708 when the relentless Habsburg general Sigbert Heister was appointed commander in chief of the imperial troops . On August 3, 1708, the Kuruzen were defeated in a battle near the city of Trenčín / Trenčín / Trencsén despite having a double numerical superiority and a series of defeats followed. In April 1711, the last larger settlement, Košice / KaschauKassa, fell into the hands of the Habsburgs. In 1711 only about 12,000 Kuruzen remained.

After Rákóczi fled to Poland, his deputy, Count Alexander Károlyi , made peace with the Habsburgs in 1711 - the Peace of Sathmar, thanks to the diplomatic skill of Count Johann Pálffy (a diplomat to whom the Habsburgs left the position of his predecessor General Heister for tactical reasons) / Szatmár . The Habsburgs granted the rebels amnesty against an oath of allegiance, the right to feudal self-government and especially the Hungarian nobility the right to sell his goods, serfs and tax exemption. In return, the Habsburgs' right of succession was recognized in Hungary.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Milan Milosevic: The history and development of the tárogató. P. 2