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Bethlen, Gabriel

Gabriel Bethlen (bĕth´lən), 1580–1629, prince of Transylvania (1613–29). He was chief adviser of Stephen Bocskay and was elected prince after the assassination of Gabriel Báthory. A Protestant, though tolerant toward all religions, he allied himself (1619) with the Protestant Frederick the Winter King and overran Hungary, of which he was elected king (1620). After Frederick's defeat at the White Mt. (1620), Bethlen signed with Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II the Treaty of Nikolsburg (1621), by which he renounced the royal title but retained control of seven Hungarian counties and received the rank of prince of the empire. He continued his relations with the Protestant powers opposing the emperor in the Thirty Years War and married the sister of the elector of Brandenburg; however, he kept the interests of Transylvania paramount. He was a wise administrator and encouraged the development of law and learning.

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