Stephan Báthory

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Stephan Báthory, King of Poland, Grand Duke of Lithuania, Prince of Transylvania

Stephan Báthory ( Hungarian Báthory István [ ˈbaːtori ˈiʃtvaːn ], Polish Stefan Batory , Lithuanian Steponas Batoras ; born  September 27, 1533 in Szilágysomlyó , Hungary , today Romania ; †  December 12, 1586 in Grodno , Poland-Lithuania , today Belarus ) was 1571– 1576 elected Prince of Transylvania and from 1576 as king of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania , like his wife Anna Jagiellon , elected head of state of Poland-Lithuania.

Stephan Báthory is considered the most famous member of the Somlyó line of the Báthory family , to which his niece Elisabeth Báthory and the imperial prince Sigismund Báthory also belonged.


Latin title: “ Stephanus, Dei gratia rex Poloniae et magnus dux Lithuaniae, Russiae, Prussiae, Masoviae, Samogitiae, Kiioviae, Volhyniae, Podlachiae, Livoniaeque, necnon princeps Transylvaniae. "

German translation: “ Stephan, by God's grace King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania, Rus , Prussia , Mazovia , Samogitia , Kiev , Volhynia , Podlachia , Livonia , also Prince of Transylvania. "

Life and political career

Elected Prince of Transylvania

Stephan Báthory was born as the son of the Transylvanian nobleman of the same name, István Báthory . He entered the service of Johann Sigismund Zápolya , who was King of Hungary and from 1570 Prince of Transylvania. When he died without a natural successor, Báthory was elected Prince of Transylvania on May 25, 1571 with the political support of Sultan Selim II of the Hungarian estates in Alba Iulia , against the resistance of Emperor Maximilian II and against the will of his predecessor, who had chosen Gáspár Bekes as his successor. When he insisted on his claim to the throne, a civil war ensued in which Báthory finally drove his rival out of Transylvania with the help of his brother Christoph Báthory .

Elected King and Grand Duke of Poland-Lithuania

Stephan Báthory, Prince of Transylvania, King and Grand Prince of Poland-Lithuania, 16th century

In June 1574, the Polish throne became vacant after Henry of Valois had resigned and returned to his homeland as the new King of France . Thereupon a follow-up debate broke out among the electorate aristocracy , because, like a year before, the Habsburg Maximilian II brought himself into play as a candidate for the Senate. Anna Jagiellonica , the sister of the last Jagiellon , King Sigismund II August, was elected ruler as her successor . Since she was still unmarried at the age of 53, thanks in particular to the support of Chancellor Jan Zamoyski , Báthory was chosen as her husband in 1576 and elected ruler of equal legal rank.

When he heard of this completely unexpected promotion, Báthory called the Transylvanian estates together in Medias and convinced them to choose his brother Christoph as his successor as prince. Then he rushed to Cracow , married Anna, and was crowned on May 1st with unprecedented splendor. At first his position was extremely difficult. However, this changed with the sudden death of Emperor Maximilian II , precisely at the moment when he was planning to invade Poland together with Tsar Ivan IV . Although Stephan continued to harbor deep distrust of the Habsburgs , he finally agreed to a defensive alliance with the empire, which the papal nuncio set up on his return to Rome in 1578.

The rule in Poland

The most important events of Stephan Báthory's reign can only be mentioned briefly here. The important Hanseatic city of Danzig feared for its privileges and refused to pay homage to the new king as long as he did not confirm its autonomous status . Like other Hanseatic cities , Danzig had its own army for defense. Danzig stood on the side of Emperor Maximilian II, who granted the city extensive privileges should it take his side in the election of a king. Aided by its immense wealth, almost impregnable fortifications and support from Denmark , it had closed its gates before the attempted conquest by the new monarch of Poland. Two Polish attempts to take the city failed.

After fighting at the mouth of the Vistula that was successful for Danzig , the second siege was also unsuccessfully broken off on September 12, 1577. King Stephan Báthory was forced to grant the privileges of the Hanseatic City of Danzig from June 16, 1454, July 9, 1455 and May 25, 1457 (own foreign policy, right to independent warfare, own administration, German official language and law; after 1525/1557 also Lutheran confession ) to be confirmed against a symbolic payment. On the other hand, Stephan had saved his face by receiving a substantial cash payment as an "apology" and was now able to devote himself to foreign affairs.

In the war against Tsarist Russia and the Jam Zapolski armistice

The historical painting “King Stephan Báthory bei Pleskau” by Jan Matejko from 1872 shows how Báthory accepted the traditional welcome gift of
bread and salt from the boyars of Pskov at the time of the Livonian War as a sign of the city's surrender (which in reality never happened). Chancellor Jan Zamoyski in a red robe stands behind the king.

The difficulties with the Ottoman Sultan Murad III. were temporarily settled by an armistice signed on November 5, 1577; the Polish Reichstag in Warsaw was persuaded to give Stephan financial support for the war against Tsarist Russia . Three campaigns (1579–1582) followed, with tiring marches and exhausting sieges. Although Báthory was repeatedly hampered by the stinginess of the Reichstag, he was able to achieve military success. His skillful diplomacy enabled him at the same time to appease the distrust of the Sublime Porte and the Roman-German emperor.

In 1581 Stephan penetrated again into the heart of the "Muscovite Empire", and on August 22nd he stood in front of the old city of Pskow , the size and imposing fortifications of the Polish army. The papal envoy Possevino protested. The Curia had expressly sent him from Rome to mediate between the Orthodox Tsar and the Catholic King of Poland, as the Curia had the vision of a unification of the two churches in mind. Nevertheless, Stephan went over to the siege of Pskov . After an unsuccessful six-month siege, he and Ivan IV, known as "the terrible", signed the Jam Zapolski treaty on January 15, 1582 , in which an armistice of 10 years was agreed. With this treaty, the Tsar ceded the city of Polotsk and parts of Livonia , which he had occupied since the Livonian War , to the Polish-Lithuanian crown.

Jesuit period

Tomb in the Wawel Cathedral

Domestically, the main aspect of Stephen's reign was the establishment of the Jesuits in Poland. They could only understand his plans and support with which he wanted to unite Poland, Lithuania, Russia and Transylvania (as a starting point for the reunification of the since 1541 tripartite Hungary) in a big state, with the aim of the Ottomans finally from Europe to to evict. This project was lost with his sudden death from a stroke in 1586. In this context he is also mentioned as the founder of the University of Vilnius in 1579 (or the previous Jesuit college in 1568).

Stephan Báthory received a monumental tomb in the Wawel Cathedral in Krakow.

See also


  • Horst Jablonowski: The foreign policy of Stephan Báthorys (1576-1586) . Priebatsch's bookstore, Breslau 1937.
  • Walter Daugsch : Counter Reformation and Protestant Confession Formation in Transylvania at the time of Stephan Bathory (1571–1584) . In: Georg and Renate Weber (ed.): Luther and Siebenbürgen. Radiation of Reformation and Humanism to Southeast Europe . Böhlau, Cologne 1985, ISBN 3-412-02585-2 , pp. 215-228.

Web links

Commons : Stefan Batory  - collection of images, videos and audio files
predecessor Office successor
Heinrich King of Poland
Sigismund III./IV.
Heinrich Grand Duke of Lithuania
Sigismund III./IV.
Johann Sigismund Zápolya Prince of Transylvania
Christoph Báthory