Balassa, Bálint

views updated


Hungarian soldier-poet; b. Kékko, 1551; d. Esztergom, May 26, 1594. His education was supervised by Peter Bornemisza, court chaplain at the Balassas' baronial estate. Balassa's life was a succession of stormy adventuresof heroic deeds and audacious highway robberies. One day he was the ideal miles christianus practicing the vows of a monk, the next day he was accused of incest and was involved in endless lawsuits. In 1574 he fought against the Turks at Eger, and after an escape to Transylvania and Poland he resumed his personal war against them. In 1584 he married his cousin, Christine Dobó, but the marriage was nullified two years later when Balassa became a Catholic. In 1594 he fought at Esztergom, and almost in the midst of clashing arms he translated Edmund campion's Decem Rationes, a pamphlet defending Catholic teaching. During the siege he received a mortal wound; his last words were "My God, I have been Thy soldier." His poems fall into three categories: religious hymns, martial songs, and love poems. For beauty, sincerity, and expression of passion there is nothing to match them in 16th-century Hungarian literature. He was also the inventor of new verse forms.

Bibliography: b. balassa, Minden munkái, ed. l. dÉzsi, 2 v. (Budapest 1923). j. remÉnyi, Three Hungarian Poets: Bálint Balassa, Miklós Zrinyi, Mihály Csokonai Vitéz (Washington 1955).

[o. j. egres]