Szerencsés, Imre

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SZERENCSÉS, IMRE (Fortunatus ; 1460–1526?), Hungarian apostate; financial adviser to the royal house. His birthplace is unknown, but some scholars believe that Szerencsés was a Spanish exile whose real name was Solomon Seneor b. Ephraim. When he arrived in Hungary he was compelled to convert to Christianity and he married a Christian woman of aristocratic birth, although many believe that he secretly remained true to Judaism. Certainly he helped Jews on some occasions. The children of his first, Jewish, marriage remained Jews. As confidant of the chancellor Szalkai (later archbishop of Hungary), Szerencsés held important positions as vice treasurer, supervisor of the frontier estates, and counselor of King Louis ii and the queen of Hungary. On his advice the king devalued the Hungarian currency to cover the expenses of the war against the Ottoman Empire. The public blamed the subsequent deteriorating financial situation on Szerencsés. When the state assembly demanded his execution in 1525, the king had Szerencsés imprisoned but ordered his release after a few weeks. In reaction the mob sacked Szerencsés' house. A short while later, Szerencsés was reconciled with the nobles and the king. During the summer of 1525, acting on his suggestion, the king confiscated the property of the Fuggers, the highly influential banking family.


S. Kohn, A zsidók története Magyarországon, 1 (1884), 271–86; S. Büchler, A zsidók története Budapesten a legrégibb időktől 1867-ig (1901), 67–73; idem, Szerencsés Imre származása (1937); Magyar Zsidó Lexikon (1929), 845–6; A. Kubinyi, in: Mitteilungen des Vereins fuer Geschichte der Stadt Nuernberg, 52 (1963–64) 98–104; L. Zolnay, Buda középkori zsidósága (1968), 32.

[Andreas Kubinyi]