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Matthias, Corvinus

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature

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king of Hungary, second son of John Hunyady (q.v.), was born in 1443, and came to the throne in 1458. His accession was hailed with the utmost enthusiasm over the whole country. But the Hungarian crown at this time was no chaplet of roses; two sovereigns, alike formidable, the one, Mohammed II, from his military talents and immense resources, the other, Frederick III, from his intriguing policy, were busily conspiring against the boy-king. To meet these dangers Matthias rapidly carried out his measures of defense, and, scarcely prepared, fell on the Turks, who had ravaged the country as far as Temesvar, inflicted upon them a bloody defeat, pursued them as far as Bosnia, took the stronghold Jaieza, there liberated 10,000 Christian prisoners, and then returned to Weisenberg, to be crowned with the sacred crown of St. Stephen, in 1464. He next suppressed the disorders of Wallachia and Moldavia; but feeling that his plans were counteracted by the intrigues of the emperor Frederick III to gain possession of Hungary, Matthias besought the assistance of pope Pius II, but to no purpose. After a second successful campaign against the Turks, he turned his attention to the encouragement of arts and letters, and adorned his capital with the works of renowned sculptors, in addition to a library of 50,000 volumes. He sent a large staff of literary men to Italy for the purpose of obtaining copies of valuable MSS. (even now the Collectio Corvina is celebrated), and adorned his court by the presence of the most eminent men of Italy and Germany. He was himself an author of no mean ability, and possessed a delicate appreciation of the fine arts. At the same time the affairs of government were not neglected. The finances were brought into a flourishing condition, industry and commerce were promoted by wise legislation, and justice was strictly administered to peasant and noble alike. But the promptings of his ambition, and the pressure exercised by the Romish party, cast an indelible blot on Matthias's otherwise spotless escutcheon; he wantonly attacked Podiebrad, his father-in-law, the Hussite king of Bohemia, to wrest from Podiebrad the scepter which he was holding by the declared will of the people. In this action Matthias was influenced especially by pope Pius II and his successor, Paul II. (See HUSSITES), vol. 4, especially p. 424, Colossians 2. After a bloody contest of seven years' duration between these kings, the greatest generals of the age, the Hungarian power prevailed, and Moravia, Silesia, and Lusatia were wrested from Bohemia. A third war with the Turks closed as successfully as the former two. The emperor also was humiliated by Matthias, and expiated his guilt in poverty and disgrace. Matthias was suddenly cut down in the midst of his successes at Vienna, April 5,1490. See Butler, Eccles. Hist. 2:165; Gieseler, Eccles. Hist. 3:370 sq. (See LADISLAUS OF POLAND); (See PIUS II).

Bibliography Information
McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Matthias, Corvinus'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature.​encyclopedias/​eng/​tce/​m/matthias-corvinus.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.