Later Hungarian IV/43c 1397-1526 AD
1x 3Kn (General): János Hunyadi or Matthias Corvinus
1x 4Sp or 4Bd or 5Wb
2x 2Ps or 3Bw
2x 2Ps or WWg
János Hunyadi , 1407-1456 ( John Hunyadi or Ioannes Corvinus) "The White Knight "
He was son of a lesser noble of Vlach origin Initially fighting as a mercenary condottiere in Italy, he later came to be filled
with a zealous dedication to one great cause–fighting the Ottoman Empire, then regarded as the greatest enemy of his country and his church,
but had shown such extraordinary talent in that capacity that Sigismund of Hungary had given him high command, and Albrecht even higher,
appointing him Ban of Szörény. Ulászló, whose cause he had supported, promoted him to Captain-General of Belgrade and Voivode of
Transylvania. He was now the most important man in Hungary, after the young king himself, and also in a fair way to becoming the richest,
for he was as great a money-maker as he was soldier; by not long after this, his private estates were estimated to have covered nearly six million acres.
In 1438, Hunyadi prepared another fateful surprise for another Turkish potentate, Mezid Pasha, at Nagyszeben, Transylvania. By that time,
Hunyadi was so feared by the Turks that the night before the battle Mezid ordered his elite troops to concentrate on Hunyadi and his
bodyguards. ‘To kill the lion, his heart must be pierced,’ Mezid exhorted his men. ‘We can defeat the Hungarian army if we get Hunyadi…
dead or alive! Don’t miss him! He wears a silvery helmet and carries a shield emblazoned with a raven. Mounted on a white horse, he is always
found in the thick of the battle!’
Thanks to a spy in the Ottoman camp, Hunyadi knew that he would be their main target. Simon Kemény, in an act of
the highest loyalty to his leader, offered to don Hunyadi’s battle armor to draw the enemy’s fire and thus secure
freedom of action for Hunyadi. After some hesitation, Hunyadi agreed and ordered his elite Székler troops to
surround and protect Kemény.
During the battle the following day, almost everything happened the way Mezid Pasha had calculated. His troops
overwhelmed the Hungarian hero on the white horse. Seeing him fall, the Turks triumphantly began shouting, ‘Hunyadi
is dead! Hunyadi is dead!’
But the celebration was premature. Hunyadi, wearing Simon Kemény’s armor, suddenly appeared with his troops and
swooped down upon Mezid’s troops with a vengeance. That was Mezid’s last surprise and ultimate terror, for he died
at Nagyszeben, together with his son and many thousands of his soldiers. Mezid’s severed head, along with rich
booty, was sent to Buda. Also among the casualties was Hunyadi’s younger brother, also named János. Simon Kemény’s
self-sacrifice would be remembered in a poem by the great Hungarian poet Mihaly Vörösmarty.
In Transylvania, in 1442, Hunyadi brilliantly defeated a Turkish army, then in 1443 persuaded Ulászló to undertake
a campaign in the Balkans, this being the first time for many years that the Turks had the offensive taken against
them on that front. This was so signally successful that the Sultan agreed to a peace which liberated all Serbia
from his rule. Unhappily, the Papal Legate, who had been organising a crusade which was frustrated by Hunyadi's
action in concluding the peace, persuaded Ulászló that a word given to an infidel need not be kept. The next year
he and Hunyadi accordingly led a new army into the Balkans, where the enraged Sultan, meeting them outside Varna on
10 November, defeated them disastrously. The young king himself perished, with the flower of his army, while
Hunyadi barely escaped with his life.In 1444 at Varna, acting against Hunyadi’s advice, King Ladislas V engaged the
enemy in close combat and was killed by Janissaries (elite Turkish infantry, originally recruited from Christian
youth who had been seized to form a bodyguard for Mehmet). Hunyadi was captured and imprisoned by Vlad Dracul. He
was later released through Hungarian intervention. In 1447, Hunyadi avenged his humiliation when he led an
expedition into Wallachia, killed Dracul and his son Mircea, and set up a loyal retainer, Vladislav II, in his
In the middle of the 15th century, Hungary had bad luck hanging on to its foreign kings: Two of them died
unexpectedly within seven years. Meanwhile, homegrown military general János Hunyadi was enjoying great success on
the battlefield against the Turks. When the five-year-old Ladislas V was elected king, Hunyadi was appointed regent
and essentially ruled the country. Hunyadi defeated the Turkish army of Mehmet II in the landmark 1456 Battle of
Belgrade (Nándorfehérvár), temporarily preventing them from entering Hungary and becoming an even greater hero to the Hungarian
people. The victory wasso significant that the Pope ordered that all churches in Europe toll their bells everyday at
noon from that day forward. The victorious army consisted of several nationalities; a large percentage were peasants recruited from
villages in the countryside by a Franciscan monk, John Capistrano. Following this defeat, the Turks withdrew and did not attempt
any serious invasion of Europe for over eighty years.The Turkish casualties at Belgrade were unprecedented. They lost 50,000 men
in the battle, and another 25,000 were slain by Serbs during their retreat. Losses to Belgrade’s defenders and Hunyadi’s relief force totaled
less than 10,000. Tragically, soon after this great victory, János Hunyadi (and John Cpistrano) died of the plague.
When King Ladislas also died (at the tender age of 16), the nobles looked for a new hero... and found Hunyadi's
son, Mátyás (Matthias). He became the first Hungarian-descended king in more than 150 years, taking the nickname
Corvinus (Latin for "raven," which appears on his coat of arms).
Even Sultan Mehmet II paid him tribute:"Although he was my enemy I feel grief over his death, because the world has
never seen such a man." Although the Turks would not attack Hungary for another 70 years, political strife
continued to trouble the kingdom. On his deathbed, Hunyadi told his countrymen: "Defend, my friends, Christendom
and Hungary from all enemies... Do not quarrel among yourselves. If you should waste your energies in altercations,
you will seal your own fate as well as dig the grave of our country." After Hunyadi's death, King László V (1444 - 1457)
ceded to the discord of the Hungarian lords. There was a two-year struggle between Hungary's various barons and its king,
with treachery from all sides. The incensed Hungarian nobility proclaimed the 15 year old Matthias King in January 1458.
Later in 1469 the Bohemian Catholic order also proclaimed him King. King Matthias organized his personal "select" forces
called the Black Army, which comprised of 20 000 hussars (light horse soldiers or cavalry), 8 000 foot soldiers, 9 000 horse carriages,
200 river boats and an artillery brigade with about 100 cannons. To support this large army and to continue with reforms, he
completely reformed the tax system, eliminated tax exemptions for feudal landlords and for religious masters. Although taxes were
high he provided protection for feudal tenants against the Turks and the power-hungry lords as well. He also guaranteed
them free movement and protection of law.
Click here to see the army pictures.