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Rákóczi Revolt


RÁKÓCZI REVOLT. After the reconquest of Hungary from the Ottomans in the war of 16841699, Vienna treated the Hungarians as unreliable rebels and their country as conquered territory that could now be integrated into the monarchy according to Vienna's design. However, the harsh measures to subdue, exploit, Catholicize, and Germanize the country triggered unrest that culminated in a full-scale uprising in May 1703. Led by Ferenc Rákóczi II (16761735), the wealthiest aristocrat in Upper Hungary, who had been raised as a loyal Habsburg subject by the Jesuits following his step-father's (Imre Thököly) and mother's (Ilona Rákóczi) failed struggle against the Habsburgs, the insurrection aimed at restoring Hungary's independence. By early 1704, since the best of the Habs-burg forces were occupied in the War of the Spanish Succession, Rákóczi controlled almost the entire country. However, the country was unable to finance the insurgent, or kuruc, army of 70,000 men, its generals were inexperienced, and Rákóczi, who was elected prince of Transylvania (1704) and of Hungary (1705), himself proved to be a better diplomat and statesman than a battlefield commander. After successive defeats, most of the aristocrats returned to the Habsburgs, deposed by the diet of 1707. While Rákóczi was seeking foreign aid in Poland, his general, Sándor Károlyi, signed the peace treaty of Szatmár (1711). Although accused of "treachery" by nationalist historians, Károlyi attained the best possible compromise, given the unfavorable military and diplomatic situation for the insurgents. While the Habsburgs reestablished royal authority over Hungary, the insurgents were given general amnesty and a pledge from their ruler that their constitutional and religious rights would be restored. More importantly, the treaty opened the way for a peaceful reconstruction of the country after three decades of war. Rákóczi rejected the amnesty and died in exile in Tekirdağ (Rodosto), Turkey in 1735.

See also Habsburg Dynasty: Austria ; Hungary .


Ingrao, Charles W. "Guerilla Warfare in Early Modern Europe: The Kuruc War (17031711)." In War and Society in East Central Europe, edited by Béla K. Király and Gunther E. Rothenberg, vol. 1, pp. 4766. New York, 1979.

Köpeczi, Béla, ed. History of Transylvania. Budapest, 1994.

Ráckóczi, Ferenc II. Mémoirs du Prince François II Rákóczi sur la guerre de Hongrie. Edited by Béla Köpeczi. Budapest, 1978.

GÁbor Ágoston

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