Copyright The Columbia University PressThe Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. The Columbia University Press
Matthias Corvinus (kôrvī´nəs), 1443?–1490, king of Hungary (1458–90) and Bohemia (1478–90), second son of John Hunyadi. He was elected king of Hungary on the death of Ladislaus V. Holy Roman Emperor Frederick III sought to contest the election but recognized him in 1462. Matthias won a reputation as a crusader against the Ottomans. He was persuaded by Pope Pius II to take up arms against George of Podebrad, king of Bohemia. Having conquered Moravia, Silesia, and Lusatia, Matthias had himself crowned (1469) king of Bohemia, but was not recognized by the Bohemian diet. The war continued after the accession of Ladislaus II as king of Bohemia. In 1478 peace was made: both Ladislaus and Matthias were to keep the title king of Bohemia; Matthias was to retain his conquests, which were, however, to revert to Bohemia after his death. After fighting two wars (1477, 1479) against Frederick III, Matthias began (1482) a third campaign. He took Vienna (1485) and conquered Styria, Carinthia, and Carniola, but his conquests were lost again after his death. His military success was largely due to the establishment of a standing army. During his rule Hungary reached its last flowering before its fall to the Ottoman Empire. He respected the national institutions but was harsh in his fiscal policy and in his administration of justice. A true Renaissance ruler, he protected learning and science. His library at Buda, the Corvina, was one of the finest in Europe. He was succeeded in Hungary by Ladislaus II of Bohemia, who ruled as Uladislaus II of Hungary.