Kingdom of Hungary Late Medieval

Dózsa's Rebellion
A posthumous portrait of György Dózsa from 1913 ©Image Attribution forthcoming. Image belongs to the respective owner(s).
1514 Jun 1

Dózsa's Rebellion

Temesvár, Romania

In 1514, the Hungarian chancellor, Tamás Bakócz, returned from the Holy See with a papal bull issued by Leo X authorising a crusade against the Ottomans. He appointed Dózsa to organize and direct the movement. Within a few weeks, Dózsa had gathered an army of some 40,000 so-called hajdúta, consisting for the most part of peasants, wandering students, friars, and parish priests - some of the lowest-ranking groups of medieval society. 

The volunteers became increasingly angry at the failure of the nobility to provide military leadership (the original and primary function of the nobility and the justification for its higher status in the society.) The rebellious, anti-landlord sentiment of these "Crusaders" became apparent during their march across the Great Hungarian Plain, and Bakócz cancelled the campaign. The movement was thus diverted from its original object, and the peasants and their leaders began a war of vengeance against the landlords. The rebellion spread quickly, principally in the central or purely Magyar provinces, where hundreds of manor houses and castles were burnt and thousands of the gentry killed by impalement, crucifixion, and other methods. Dózsa's camp at Cegléd was the centre of the jacquerie, as all raids in the surrounding area started out from there.

As his suppression had become a political necessity, Dózsa was routed at Temesvár (today Timișoara, Romania) by an army of 20,000 led by John Zápolya and István Báthory. He was captured after the battle, and condemned to sit on a smouldering, heated iron throne, and forced to wear a heated iron crown and sceptre (mocking his ambition to be king). The revolt was repressed but some 70,000 peasants were tortured. György's execution, and the brutal suppression of the peasants, greatly aided the 1526 Ottoman invasion as the Hungarians were no longer a politically united people. 

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Last Updated: : Sat Aug 27 2022